Oh ye of little faith! Did you REALLY think we’d deny you your weekly serving of “The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno & Al”?
Due to Al’s bad Internet connection and my real life, we weren’t able to chat until THIS MORNING. But here we are, and I’ll dispense with the lengthy intro. Suffice it to say that every Thursday I talk sports with Big Al from The Wayne Fontes Experience.
That’s it. We talk sports. That’s all you need to know. The topics will become evident as you read — I promise.
Now let’s get ON with it!!
Eno: My, how time flies! Is it REALLY Thursday, already? Time for another webisode of “The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno & Al.” I’m Eno, aka The Journalist, and he’s Big Al, aka Mr. Big Shot. Al, before we begin, why don’t you make another plug for your podcasty idea for TKJ…..
Big Al: We’re thinking about extending The Knee Jerk “brand”, if we can call it that, to audio. We’d like to move into the broadcast realm, via a podcast. We’re thinking of going to Blog Talk Radio. For one reason, its ease of use, and two, its ease of use, and three, it’s easier to get up and running than finding the time to edit a podcast. As for BTR, You just go to the page, and click “play” to hear our live broadcast, and it’s archived for download. If you’ve ever heard me do a podcast or a radio bit, you know I like to talk…and talk and talk. Eno? well, he’ll just have to keep up. Anyway, we’d love to get your feedback. We’ll keep you all in the loop. Anything you’d like to add before we move on to the news of the day?
Eno: No, that all sounds fun and exciting, except what do I do when I have to walk the dog?
Big Al: Depending on the news, we can keep the podcast short, say half and hour. Otherwise, I’ll talk and talk and talk while you do the deed. Plus, on Blog Talk Radio, we can take callers. So there’s a few options there. The podcast could be an option, but we’ll have to learn the technical end of it. Either way, I think our readership would enjoy it. They’re a smart bunch…
Eno: Smarter than the average listener! Probably smarter than us, too. Anyhow, I can’t wait to see the feedback. It’d be fun to take our Jerkosity to the next level. OK, let’s kick things off with some post-NFL Draft talk. I whined on OOB on Wednesday that it’s too early to “grade” the draft. But now I’ll do an about face and ask you, “How ’bout that draft, Al?”
Big Al: Some people may be surprised, but I really liked the Lions’ draft. They picked the top player at four different positions: QB, TE, S, and KR. No other team can say so. I can’t say this enough: when you’re 0-16, and have lost 22 of 23 games over two seasons, talent trumps need. And every position is a position of need. So all of those fans and “experts” (the experts being mostly hack columnists) who are upset over not addressing every defensive need, did they really expect the Lions to solve ALL of their problems in one draft? It’s an impossible task. So taking the best available player, regardless of position, was the right thing to do!
Eno: Well, if the Lions can somehow snatch Steeler-for-now LB Larry Foote, then their corps won’t be too bad: Foote, Ernie Sims, and Julian Peterson—with Deandre Levy around to learn. Obviously, there was something about Rey Maualuga and James Laurinaitis that scared them off. I like a safety in Round Two. I hope Matthew Stafford’s baseball cap doesn’t come off once this season—for that will either mean “panic in Detroit” (right, David Bowie?) or an injury to Daunte Culpepper. I think I’d feel better if Stafford was No. 3 and they grabbed a veteran backup. Sorry, Mr. Stanton!
Big Al: You have to think the Lions’ brain trust saw the Foote move coming, though he hasn’t yet been cut. (That should happen early next week) But signing the former Wolverine would go a long way toward filling what I like to call the gaping maw at MLB. No way in Hell could the Lions go another year with Paris Lenon, a special teams player masquerading as a starting MLB. As for QB, I think Stanton is living on borrowed time as well. As I put it on TWFE, he’s the QB no one wanted…other than Matt Millen. I don’t know who the veteran QB will be at this point, as we’re going to see more situations like Foote’s in Pittsburgh throughout the NFL. There will be serviceable backups on the market soon. The Lions will wait it out till it gets closer to camp, and see what veteran QBs are looking for work. Someone better than Stanton is bound to be available, and available at a cheap rate.
Eno: You NEED a veteran around. It’s too important of a position, and too fraught with injuries, to hand the reins to a rookie. Having an experienced vet can save your season. The Lions aren’t likely to be playoff contenders in 2009, but you never know. Remember what Dave Krieg did for the Lions in 1994? OK, so one more query about the draft and then we’ll move on: were you surprised by Mark Sanchez-to-the-Jets?
Big Al: What? Didn’t Drew Henson qualify as a veteran backup? Indeed, Krieg was the best QB on the Lions’ roster in ‘94, as Scott Mitchell, Wayne Fontes’ savior at QB, didn’t play all that well, and then went down with an injury. Krieg saved the season, and quite likely, Fontes’ job. We’ve seen it time and again in Detroit. Remember 1979, when the Lions lost both starter Gary Danielson and his veteran backup, Joe Reed, before the season even started? That led to the short lived, and much reviled, Jeff Komlo Era. I’m NOT saying Stafford = Komlo. I AM saying rookie QBs, no matter how talented, are rarely ready to step in as the starter in their first season. As for the Jets, their “man crush” on Sanchez was something to behold. They essentially gave up five players in return for the USC rookie who has started only 16 games in college. Then again, there were some “experts” who liked Sanchez more than Stafford, so it’s not surprising he went so high. But to give up so much? Sanchez best be the next coming of Joe Willie Namath for the Jets. Speaking of drunk QBs (OK, bad segue, but I had to get the Namath – Kolber thing in) do you see Stafford starting at all this season? The cries will be heard for him if the Lions, as they are bound to do, get off to a bad start.
Eno: I PRAY he doesn’t play one down, unless it’s in a “kneel down” situation. Let him sit the year out, learn, and compete for the starting job in 2010. I would MUCH rather have a veteran on the sidelines, ready to step in. OK, your turn to pick a topic. I should mention to our readers that this is as close to doing TKJ “live” as we’ve ever done. It’s pushing 11am and we’ll have this posted this afternoon!
Big Al: Damn straight. Thanks to lousy internet connections (now fixed) and life in general (it happens), we’ve been trying to get this done since noon Wednesday. That’s dedication, folks! I know we touched on this some last week, but it’s worth quickly bringing up. Pistons grand Pooh Bah Joe Dumars spoke to the media Wednesday, and confirmed (to most fans’ regret) that head coach Michael Curry would return next year. Dumars pretty much confirmed what we’ve been saying: he put Curry in a very bad spot with the failed (on the court, anyway) Allen Iverson trade. I think Curry was God awful this season, Iverson be damned (I HATED small ball) and didn’t deserve to return. What’s your final take on the Curry situation?
Eno: My take is that it’s too bad…all the way around: too bad for Curry to be in that situation; too bad for the players who had the carpet yanked out from beneath them after the Iverson trade; too bad for the fans, who want to see a new coach next season. I think Curry keeps his job so Dumars can save face, frankly. This might be one of the most interesting off-seasons in recent Pistons history, no?
Big Al: Yes? (I’m never sure how to answer “no?”) Joe Dumars’ reputation is on the line with the next couple of off-seasons. I really think there are only a few safe bets to return: Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum and…and…well, that’s about it. Everyone else is either already out the door (‘Sheed, McDyess, Iverson, Herrmann) or trade bait (Prince and Hamilton, Afflalo, Brown, Maxiell) The Pistons literally rolled over and quit against the superior Cavs, and only Antonio McDyess played like he actually gave a sh*t. I’m ready to blow it up. Blow it up good… But which free agents want to come to Detroit? I think a trade for a big name or two is more likely, as some Pistons do have value (Even if some of them rolled over and played dead in the playoffs. I’m looking at YOU, Prince!).
Eno: Well, the Pistons aren’t the “slam dunk” that everyone thinks they are in terms of attracting free agents. Dumars must make his team look attractive to potential FAs. You can’t just throw the Pistons name out there and expect everyone to flock, like before.
Big Al: Not that they ever did. The free agents Dumars’ made hay with in the past were either role players who blossomed with the Pistons (Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups), or injury risks (McDyess). He’s never been able to attract a true “star”. But he did make some very good trades, stealing Hamilton and ‘Sheed for peanuts. I actually have more faith in Joe D finding a roster fix via trade, than in the draft or free agency. There’s going to be several teams looking to dump salary in order to avoid the NBA luxury tax. Someone like Amare Stoudamire could be available, and the Pistons are one of the few teams with the cap room to take him. Whatever tack he takes, Dumars has his work cut out for him.
Eno: Indeed he does. This is his second reclamation project with the team. He did pretty well in the post-Grant Hill Era. Let’s see what he does this time. OK, change of topics. The Tigers just got spanked twice out of three games to the Yankees. Big innings killed them. Was the bullpen, and Rick Porcello, simply due, or is there cause for concern? The AL Central, as expected, is a logjam and no one is off to a blazing start.
Big Al: I’m not all that worried about the relief pitching, unless Nate Robertson or Brandon Lyon answer Jim Leyland’s call in the bullpen. They have been lit up, especially Robertson. It’s been a hard fall for him, as he was a solid end of the rotation guy till last season, when he just plain lost “it”, whatever “it” may be. He’s the highest paid mop-up man in baseball history. I don’t trust him in ANY high leverage situation. I’m getting the same feeling with Lyon, who was supposed to be the closer, and who is now pitching himself out of a set-up role. But Joel Zumaya is back, and is pitching well late in games, Fernando Rodney is holding his own as the closer, and Ryan Perry is just wild enough to scare hitters from digging in on him. I’m willing to live with his growing pains, considering his 100 MPH fastball. The pen will be fine. As for the rotation, it’s been very good. Edwin Jackson has been a revelation, Armando Galarraga is the real deal, Justin Verlander threw like his old self on Monday, dominating the Yankees. Jeremy Bonderman is close to returning. So I’m not all that worried about the pitching, save for the usual suspects. What’s your take, Eno?
Eno: I’m pleased with the starters, I really am. Nick Swisher of the Yanks was duly impressed with Verlander and others on the staff. As for Zumaya, he and Leyland agree that it’s time to start “pitching” now, instead of chucking it up there. Leyland says 98, 99 MPH doesn’t cut it anymore; you have to have movement, and a breaking ball—which Zoom Zoom needs to get under his command. I’ll take 11-10 and first place. I don’t see anyone in the Central winning much more than 90 games, frankly. But you’d better win it; the Wild Card will be coming from elsewhere.
Big Al: Before the season started, I said the Tigers would hover around .500 all year, which would be enough to contend in the Central. Nothing I’ve seen so far has changed my opinion, and their 11-10 record bears it out. Hey, first place is first place, right? But there are some worries. The left side of the infield has been less than stellar defensively. Sure, Brandon Inge is getting to far more ground balls, but thanks to that athleticism, he seems to think he can make insane throws, when holding on to the ball would be the prudent move. Adam Everett has been outplayed, both in the field and at the plate, by Ramon Santiago. Why was Everett signed again?
Eno: I love Santiago, but we’ll apparently never know what he can do with 500 at-bats.
Big Al: The top of the order has yet to really start hitting as well. The Tigers can’t depend on Inge to lead the team in power stats. The top five in the order needs to get going. And I have to mention catcher Gerald Laird. He was stolen from the Rangers; he’s a big upgrade from Pudge Rodriguez.
Eno: OK, it’s time for some WordArse!! Ready?
Big Al: Sure, let’s play some Word Association. I’m ready, willing and somewhat able. Fire away, my journalist friend…
Eno: OK, I say “Red Wings-Ducks” and you say….
Big Al: Wings in six. I hate the Mighty Ducks, I hate insanely late west coast starts and I HATE Chris Pronger. Did I say I HATE Pronger? Cuz I HATE Pronger! HATE!!!
Eno: I think I get the idea. OK, next: Pavel Datsyuk, Hart/Selke/Lady Byng finalist.
Big Al: HATE!!!
Eno: Am I gonna have to get you some limburger cheese, Curly?
Big Al: MOE! LARRY! CHEESE! It’s either that or playing “Pop Goes the Weasel!” Even if Pavel’s the best two-way player in the NHL, Dats will win the Selke and Bing as consolation for losing the Hart.
Big Al: HATE!!! PRONGER!!!
Eno: Ah, OK. Two more: Brett Favre, who says (get this) that he wants to “retire as a Packer”
Big Al: Don’t go away mad, but just go away, Favre. I read Favre asked for his release from the Jets. He can’t actually be thinking of playing another season, can he? It would be fitting that he leaves the NFL the same season John Madden, who LIVED for Favre, left as well. Good riddance to both of ’em. They are both shadows of themselves…
Eno: I love it! OK, last one: Chris Pronger.
Big Al: Cute. Real cute… I HATE THAT TALL GOON!!! Ready, Eno-sabi?
Eno: I’m open!
Big Al: I know, hit you! Let’s start with a player you might be familiar with, a point guard who chewed up and spit out the Hornets, Chauncey Billups!
Eno: Oh, what might have been in Detroit this season! Good for him. He taught that young whippersnapper Chris Paul a thing or two about point guarding in the playoffs!
Big Al: Yes, he’s quite good at the basketballing. Next, one of the most pleasant surprises of the Tigers’ season, catcher Gerald Laird.
Eno: I liked Laird with Texas, and I was “pleased as punch”, as they say, when the Tigers acquired him. I don’t expect him to keep this up offensively, but I liked him for his defense anyway.
Big Al: I say Matthew Stafford is making more money than Tom Brady, and you say…
Eno: That’s the way of the world. And it should change, but how? Any crabbing about that appears to be doing you-know-what into the wind.
Big Al: Spitting? I would have used another word, but I know you run a family friendly blog, unlike the profane one I run! One more for you…who wins that most entertaining first round NBA series, the Celtics or the Bulls?
Eno: Oh, the Celts, but what a tough time they’re having with those pesky Bulls. And Ben Gordon isn’t 100% healthy. Remember, the Celts had fits with the Hawks last spring in Round One.
Big Al: And they are missing Kevin Garnett. Not that it makes a difference who wins, as no one is beating LeBron James, who is apparently on a mission to finally win the city of Cleveland a title. Before we wrap things up, is there anything else on the buttoned down mind of Eno?
Eno: No, I think we’d better move right into Jerk of the Week. And guess what? Tag, you’re it!! By the way, nice old Bob Newhart reference with the “buttoned down mind” thing!!
JERK OF THE WEEK
Big Al: I figured you’d get it, but anyone younger than 40, not so much. I suggest they dig up some old Newhart standup, and be prepared to be entertained. But I digress… My jerk of the Week is…WDIV, channel 4 in Detroit, who has hired…NO, I can’t bring myself to write this…suck it up, dude! Crap. I’ll just blurt it out. WDIV hired the worst columnist in America, my mortal enemy, disgraced former Detroit News columnist Rob Parker, to write commentary for their website. Just when you think he’s gone… The Detroit sports community just got that much dumber with the functionally retarded one’s return. *facepalm* OK, your turn!
Eno: Hard to follow THAT JOTW, but I’ll give it a try. Mine is Peter Gammons, who tried to give traction to a ridiculous “Tigers might trade Cabrera” rumor!!
Big Al: Oh, good Lord, that was ridiculous. I was so glad [Tigers GM] Dave Dombrowski stopped that silly rumor in its tracks. Well, it took us 24 hours, but we did it! We’ve reached the end of another Knee Jerks!
Eno: FINALLY! Now, just have to edit the darn thing and get it on the Net before our readers show up to our blogs with pitchforks and torches!
Big Al: No, they would never do that. They like us. I think. Till next week, same jerk time, same jerk channel, same jerk attitude, same Jerk…Well, you get my drift…
Eno: You bet. I’ll be Jack Lord this week: “Be there. Aloha.”
Big Al: HATE!!! PRONGER!!!!
Eno: Um, yeah. I got that.