Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stumbling, Bumbling, Fumbling

ND 13
UM 6

Six damn points?  Although frankly, it's arguable which is more surprising, Michigan scoring six points or Notre Dame being a pass interference call by a true freshman away from only kicking field goals against the much-maligned UM defense.  Every single expert predicted a shootout.  I guess it's hard to forecast almost double-digit turnovers.

Both teams stink.  Yes, BOTH teams.  Michigan is just too sloppy to beat a top 25 team, let alone beat one on the road.  Michigan outgained Notre Dame, moved the ball steadily and regularly down the field only to shoot themselves in the foot time and time again.  Six redzone visits and two field goals.  Bleh.  After UM came away with zero points after their first two posessions, which instead should've been 14 or at least 10 points, you got the feeling that the inability to take advantage spelled DOOM.

Michigan outplayed Notre Dame except of course in the one area that matters: scoreboard.  They let a very winnable road game slip away.  That's the very simple difference between good teams and bad/mediocre teams.

Notre Dame will move up into the top 10.  Probably undeservedly play in a BCS game and get annihilated.  As usual.

This game had an eerie similarity to the Bears-Packers game last week.  The Bears let a savory opportunity slip away due to too many mistakes.  The win was there to be had.  Slipped away.  Frustrating.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Michigan - ND: Ah, Memories

As Kramer said: "The cat is...out of the bag."

I used to be a Notre Dame fan.  A massive Notre Dame fan - an actual fanatic.  Some of my earliest sports memories revolved around my love of Notre Dame football.  I remember Rocket returning 2 kicks for touchdowns.  I remember Tony Rice running the option to perfection.  I remember my brief catatonic state as Rocket's punt return was called back on the phantom clipping penalty.  I remember walking in to my Bar Mitzvah introduction to, what else, Wake up the Echoes.  I remember Kevin McDougal inextricably beating Michigan in the Big House.

Then it changed.

My acceptance letter came and poof.  Gone.  Traded in my blue and gold for maize and blue.  Touchdown Jesus for, um, well UofM doesn't need any assistance from the almighty.

As it happened, my first Michigan game as a student (and as defending national champions) was a loss to the Fighting Irish.  Of course.

Michigan is 8-5 against the Irish, including winning 5 of the last 6, since I said yes to Ann Arbor.  People always ask me if there's any part of me that still roots for Notre Dame.  Putting aside all the riff-raff surrounding Notre Dame's unwarranted exposure and unnecessary hype....the answer is NO!

Go Blue!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back in Business: Courtesy of one LBJ

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's suffering from a bit of an Olympic let-down.  There's gotta be something to fill the it!  Blogging!

I watched hours of the Olympics - couldn't get enough.  The usual suspects of course, including swimming, track&field, and gymnastics roped me in for 2 1/2 weeks as did the other classic Olympics sports of volleyball, diving, and handball (kind of...)  The accolades of Phelps, Lochte, Franklin, Gabby, Felix, etc have been well documented but personally, one of my takeaways from the Olympics has been my ALMOST 180 on The Chosen One himself, LeBron James.

A few things:  I was NOT wrong about my sentiments regarding LeBron this past year mostly pertaining to but not limited to: 1) his other-wordly obnoxious decision of choosing to play for the worst sports city in the world, 2) the sad fact that the best player in the NBA consistently opts to flop and perpetuate the game's biggest current problem, and 3) until game 6 of the ECF he failed to ROUTINELY deliver in the most crucial moments.  These facts are indisputable.  However, #1 can't be changed, #3 has (finally, but perhaps momentarily) been put behind us, and #2 is TBD.  Come on LeBron.  It's very unbecoming.

Moving on.  After watching LeBron not only carry the Heat to a championship but more recently carrying (as much as a team needs to be carried against the likes of Spain, Argentina, and Russia) Team USA to a gold medal I have come around.  Mostly.  Watching LeBron play his ass off for his country impressed the hell out of me.  Athletes can fake certain things, but the sheer, unfiltered joy that LeBron showed after winning gold is not one of them.  Maybe the Olympics came around at just the right time.  When an athlete throws on a jersey with USA across the front I start cheering for them whether it's a previously unknown high schooler from Aurora, Colorado, a boxer from Flint, Michigan, or the second most followed athlete on Twitter.  The cynics may say that LeBron's handlers made him aware of the significance of leading Team USA to gold, but nonetheless I was impressed.

As a side note, I think it should be mentioned that Kobe's rehabilitation of his image is also basically complete.  Everyone knows of his moral lapses but there is no doubting that he is a changed man and for that he deserves credit.  This is different than Michael Vick's laughable, forced apologies.

The echoes and voices of the Olympics are still palpable and Team USA's dominance is still fresh in my memory so maybe time will change my feelings.  Maybe after one more LeBron glare into the crowd after a dunk over a 3rd string point guard I'll revert to my original eye-rolling.  But for now, while the Olympic highlights are still fresh, I am a WITNESS.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Time for a Rant....

It's hard to know exactly where this latest Chicago sports disappointment falls into place.  What was heading towards a historical playoff series with El Heat -- essentially good vs. evil -- careened off track prematurely.  As soon as the fibers of a certain ACL were shredding with 72 seconds remaining in Game 1 against Philly, the chances of that year-long anticipated rematch vanished.  After the injury, I realized that I quickly processed one of the more commonly studied acronyms in medicine: DABDA.  Well, most of it.

Denial:  Maybe it's just a sprain.  If we can prolong the series against Philly, Rose will be back in a week
Anger:  Dammit Thibs!  Why is Rose in there with a minute left in the game?!??!
Bargaining: Fine, Just let Miami and Boston lose.  Please?
Depression:  Currently ongoing
Acceptance:  I'll get back to ya.

I had a hard time figuring out how to feel after Rose went down.  Obviously I knew it was over, but it's hard to just turn the switch off, I mean, it's not like I'm a Miami "fan" where going to a game and "cheering" for a team is like going to see a concert - purposefully miss the opener, show up late, exciting, and then it's over and forgotten.  I admired the way the Bulls continued to play hard, underscored with every second I watched of Atlanta Hawk basketball.  Lesser teams would've been blown out at some point in that series.  Not the Bulls.  It's tough that effort like that goes unnoticed.  I admire Deng giving everything he has.  He's limited offensively but plays his ass off.  As does Taj, Noah, and most of the roster.  Boozer?  Well, I think it's crystal clear that he's the new Soriano.  He flat out stinks, will have a mediocre game every now and then when nothing is on the line and utterly shrivels away at the first inkling of a big moment.  That's it.  We're stuck.

So as things stand now, LeBron will waltz through to the finals without a challenge or adverstiy - exactly how he and the city of Miami prefer it.  LeBron may be the least self-aware person on the planet.  Which, as it happens, is why he's such a perfect fit in Miami.  Miami is a pathetic sports town.  In fact, calling it a sports town is a disservice to sports towns.  To be a sports town there has to be fans, so already Miami is eliminated. But that's just the thing.  Miami doesn't even realize that they're laughed at and mocked for their inability to support a team, and nor does LeBron.

Each sports city has its own unique culture.
 Miami (I'll bend the definition of "sports city" for now to include Miami) - as stated earlier, views sports as an equivalent to a concert.  3 hours of entertainment without any connection to the performers.  Will only show up if they're the prohibitive favorite, otherwise it's "not cool."  Can't be seen as rooting or caring about a team that may lose.
Boston - Insists they are the center of the sports galaxy no matter what.  Have a completely unwarranted sense of being owed something.
New York - Foreign concept that they are not always the best which is why they overreact to any mediocre team they have.
L.A. - Ummm, close 2nd to Miami as the worst fans.  Similar in the fact that no one would care at all if they weren't at or near the top.

But I digress.  As far as the Philly game goes, I couldn't even bring myself to watch games 3-5.  I wasn't planning on watching game 6 but boy does twitter make it difficult to avoid something.  I got yanked in about mid 4th quarter.  My mild excitement was each time checked by the reminder that this team had no chance of doing anything and even if they managed to pull this series out we'd all be tortured with a Celtics series in the next round.  I'd rather be water-boarded than watch Rondo do anything other than get thrown out of a game.  Watson should NOT have passed the ball, but the foul on Asik was ABSOLUTELY a flagrant.  The refs were too gutless to make that call.  Typically, ripping an opposing player down by the neck is not a routine foul.  Whatever.  The season's over, mercifully, but the pain continues as long as LeBron is still scowling at a 4th string point guard he just hit a jumper over, the fake-tan, gold chain-wearing, spiked-hair, tank top and sunglasses inside-sporting Miami fans are still doing something other than staring at themselves in the mirror of a juice bar, and the Cubs, yes, the Cubs are the best thing going in Chicago.  Uggh.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bri Blog Mailbag!

Ok, Ok.  It's been waaaaay too long.  I get it.  Well that ends today!  The Bri Blog is back.  With so many events having transpired and so many more on the horizon I felt it time to dig into my readers' emails and questions from the last 3 months.  Without further ado:

The Big Ten is absolutely loaded next year but are my beloved Hoosiers really worthy of topping the way-too-early preseason top 25?
Larry - Terre Haute, IN

What's the deal with college teams and the state of Indiana?  Every time Notre Dame is half-way decent they're ranked in the top 10.  Now we have to deal with the same hysteria for Indiana basketball?  C'mon man!
Bo - Lansing, MI

In 49 other states it's just basketball.  We're back!!
Ryan - Middle-of-nowhere, IN

When talking about who shouldn't be ranked #1 you have to then ask yourself who should be ranked #1.  It's gotta be someone.  Why not a team returning all 5 starters and bench players that matter, have a top 10 recruiting class, and have the biggest home-cooking homecourt advantage in basketball?  Let's look at the rest of the way-too-early top 10:

Ohio State
NC State
Michigan State

Overrated:  Kansas and Ohio State (you don't lose Sullinger and Buford and simply move on)
Underrated: Kentucky (yes, even at #4, and even with a new team)

It's ESPN's job to create intrigue and having the one-time flagship program of the Big Ten atop the polls certainly does that.

When is UofM gonna put our banners back up!  Will I ever be welcomed back in the doors?
Chris - Ann Arbor, MI

Jalen - Ann Arbor, MI

It's an absolute joke that the UofM President has continued to pretend that one of the greatest college basketball teams of my lifetime never existed.  I don't understand what warrants a ban on you, Chris.  We all know Ed Martin had no affiliation with the University, but this is why Michigan holds itself to a higher standard.  Leaders and Best.  Don't fret Jalen, we got one Big Ten Championship banner going up from this year and more to come!

I saw a few tweets of yours in regards to the Masters a few weeks ago.  Golf?!???  What happened to you?  You've really taken that leap?  During opening week of baseball no less!
Tim - Hammond, IN

I know, I know.  Highly questionable.  But, fact of the matter is it can be kinda fun, sometimes, under the right conditions, with the right people, on certain days, here and there.  It is unique in the fact that it combines a sport/hobby with a social outing.  2 in 1!  As far as coinciding with baseball (sigh), I don't know what to say.  I grew up loving baseball but my indifference really has reached a zenith and I can honestly say it's not just the fact the Cubs won't win 70 games.  Is it the fact that all other Chicago teams are essentially playoff teams?  Probably.  Is it that I can't name the starting infield?  Probably.  Is it because baseball in general has barely any of the day-to-day appeal compared to the NBA and NFL?  Probably.  I guess in the end it boils down to the fact that the Cubs stink, won't be good any time soon, and the Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks are  all better.  Oh well....I guess it's tough playing second, er, third, wait, I mean fourth fiddle.

Seriously, no Lebron post in weeks?  Are you ok?
J.T. - Miami, Fl

After a long day at work I used to be able to count on reading something about how Lebron is not worthy of a championship because he tried to cut corners to win by joining forces with what should've been his career-long rival, because he routinely disappears in crunch time, and because he's just an overall agonizingly painful player to root for.  Hmmm, I guess it all sunk in.  Thanks!
Michael - Chicago, IL

All I have to say about the NBA playoffs is if I ever hear the term "Gametime decision" again, it will be too soon.  I understand there's a condensed schedule but I never remember hearing about players resting missing games during the Jordan-era.  Seriously, did Jordan ever miss a game for essentially no reason?  From the '84-85 season to the '97-98 season, Jordan played in at least 78 games except for 3 times:  '85-'86 played 7 games due to broken foot (and Jordan wanted to return), '93-'94 swinging and missing at curve balls, and '94-'95 played 17 games after coming back.  Reason # 1,246 why he's the greatest ever.

P.S. NBA playoff podcast full of predictions with Davis and Anthony coming as soon as playoff seeding is announced.

You wanted me out?  Fine.  Show me how it's done.  Draft's in 4 days
Jerry A. - Chicago, IL

Pretty simple.  If Michael Floyd is there, take him without hesitation.  If not, take the best DE.  Round 2 take an OL and the rest defense.  There. done.  12-4.

More to come.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The forgotten Bulls

What the talking heads are chatting about:

Who's Miami playing in the NBA finals?

Do the Celtics have one more run?

Can the Pacers or Grizzlies make another leap?

Is Orlando done?

Who's the best team in L.A.?

Is OKC the clear front-runner in the west?

How good can Blake become playing with the league's best PG?

Can Dallas repeat?

It's pretty astonishing that NOBODY is talking about the team with the reigning MVP and the league's best regular season record even with substantial injuries to key players.   Fine with me.....