Saturday, December 30, 2006

Browns season ends today
It's stunning how,less than four months ago, I couldn't wait for the season to start. Now, I can't wait for it to end. I still like Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage, and still have faith in them. But this season was disasterous. Injuries, blowups, firings, more injuries, heartbreaking losses, near fights, injuries, and more injuries.
By November, I had started watching pro wrestling again, because I couldn't stand watching a sport where my team had no chance and needed something to fill the time. That's a bad sign.
There's talk of big changes, as if that will do any good. Maybe it's best to just accept, learn and move on.
* There are some positives. Four wins this season, yes. But Kamerion Wimbley will be a star at linebacker. Kellen Winslow has been healthy and very good. If only he could keep his mouth shut. Hank Fraley has been a stable addition at center, and with the questions surrounding LeCharles Bentley, ought to be retained. Simon Frasier has been solid.
* Does anyone have any idea what was wrong with Phil Dawson this season?
* So we watch, and we wait, and we hope. I hope Romeo is retained, Phil does what he does best, and next year will be better. I also hope there are no press conferences next week with Randy Lerner stumbling in front of the cameras. Randy, relax, fly to England and enjoy your soccer team. Just sign the checks and let football people make football decisions. And please, do not make any phone calls to a certain Cleveland talk show host to ask for advice.
As a member of the media,here's the sad truth: Many of us are in this business because we didn't have the ability to play the sport, and didn't have the patience to learn it well enough to coach it or make personnel decisions.
I'm here because I enjoy writing and love sports. But if I were to coach, I'd fail.
My advice to Randy Lerner is to do the thing that Cleveland has had so much trouble doing over the last seven years: Be patient. Erasing years of bad decisions takes more than 32 games.

Saddam is dead
Here's what confuses me. A number of newspapers are running photo galleries and retrospectives about a murderous dictator. CNN's front page last night looked similar to what it had done a few days earlier when James Brown died.
The picture was in black and white, and there was a "1937-2006" graphic.
Considering some of the footage CNN has shown since the Iraq war began, I found it laughable that Anderson Cooper said the organization wanted to be "sensitive" in deciding whether to show photos or footage of Saddam's death.
No matter. If his death allowed those he tortured some small amount of peace, then that is the most important thing.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Motor City Bowl: TiVo-Blogged
Before I start tonight’s TiVo-blog of the Motor City Bowl, I’d like to pass along condolences to the friends and family of President Gerald Ford, who passed away Tuesday. There will probably be tributes and retrospectives written about the man, and the writers will no doubt be better qualified than I to reflect on his life. But since Ford was a former college football player and perhaps the best athlete ever to occupy the country’s highest office, any sports article written so closely to his passing probably should make mention of the loss.

Rest in Peace, Mr. President.

• As some of you may know, I did a TiVo-blog last month for the MAC Championship game, which was also held at Ford Field in Detroit. The immediate result of that game was the placement of Central Michigan in this game. Another result left CMU without a coach. Brian Kelly left for Cincinnati, and Jeff Quinn took over. No one knows for sure whether Quinn will get the job full time. Their opponent is Middle Tennessee State, a team I will admit knowing nothing about. Thank goodness for the Internet.

• Amazingly, my TiVo starts with kickoff just moments away. An ESPN game starting on time? I need to check my watch to make sure it’s not 1988. Because of this, the announcers are never introduced to me, and I can’t recognize either voice.

• The announcers are talking about Joe Tresey, who will be Central Michigan’s defensive coordinator for the MCB and then join Cincinnati in that capacity for the International Bowl Jan. 6. Working for both sides? Who does he think he is, Dick Morris?

• The Chippewas get the ball first. Meaning we’ll get to see John Mayer, er, Dan LeFevour, a freshman, at quarterback for CMU. He marches the Chippewas down the field without much resistance, going 78 yards. Announcer No. 2 tells us Quinn, despite being the team’s offensive coordinator, never called the plays. Kelly did. Very Maurice Carthon. Still, if Quinn excels, I doubt he’ll be interim much longer. LeFevour rushes to the 1, then Ontario Sneed goes in for the score at 11:06. The Blue Raiders trail, 7-0.

• Clint Marks in for the Blue Raiders at QB, and completes his first pass. A 6-2 senior from Fort Myers Fla., Marks us a lefty who completes his second pass, a screen to Desmond Gee. After two plays, Middle Tennessee State is down to the 38 of the Chippewas.

• Gee is a 5-8 freshman receiver, and looks to be the primary weapon on offense. The Blue Raiders keep moving, until CMU’s Mike Ogle sacks Marks for a loss of 11. The sack stalls the drive, although Middle Tennessee State gets close enough on a third down-and-forever to attempt a 39-field goal. Colby Smith makes the attempt, and misses it badly, hooking it left. About seven minutes remain in the first quarter.

• Sneed starts the Chippewas’ drive with a 36-yard run. A review wipes out six yards of that. Well, make that 10 yards. I hate instant replay, because honestly, there is nothing instant about it. Officials are supposed to make the right call the first time, and if they don’t, well, that’s part of the game. As I write that, a few plays after the review, LeFevour finds Sneed for a 29-yard TD. Right now, CMU looks to be playing a team that is not in its league, at least defensively.

• Damon Nickson attempts to shut me up with a 27-yard kickoff return on the next play. The Blue Raiders take the ball at the 46.

• The announcers for the game are Dave Lamont, Ray Bentley, and Vince Welch [on the sideline]. I have never heard of any of them, but they are doing a very good job so far, telling the stories that need to be told and letting the play speak for itself.

• On a third and 10, Marks throws an incomplete pass, forcing a punt. Smith (who apparently does kicks and punts for the Raiders. Impressive) boots it away.

• Though Central Michigan drives from inside its 10 to almost midfield, Middle Tennessee State forces its first punt. The Blue Raiders get the ball at their 20. A first down and an interference penalty sets the team up at their 41. It was a long pass, and the penalty meant all of 15 yards. It sends a good message to college defenders: If a receiver beats you, tackle him. Better to lose 15 yards than 40.

Second Quarter

• Brian Kelly joins the announcers on the phone. As soon as he does, the Middle Tennessee State offense starts moving. Kelly says he wants Quinn to get the job. Any other response would be treason. Meanwhile, Eugene Gross takes the ball to the CMU 5. For God’s sake coach, get off the phone, you’re bad luck. Gross almost scores, then it’s second and goal. But the magic of review makes it a touchdown with 10:57 left in the half.

• Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Sockstill calls for an onside kick, which the Chippewas recover. It’s a great call by Sockstill – if it works. It didn’t, so it’s a bad call. It’s especially bad because CMU, with the help of a completion and a roughing the passer penalty on the Blue Raiders, gets the ball to the Middle Tennessee State 15. Two plays later, LeFevour rushes nine yards for a TD. This game is probably over right now. There is more than 10 minutes left in the second quarter, but CMU has sapped any momentum from the Blue Raiders, and leads 21-7.

• Meanwhile, Nickson bobbles the ensuing kickoff and Middle Tennessee State starts inside the 10. But the Blue Raiders surprise me again, moving to the ball past its 40 before punting. The Blue Raiders look definitely game for this, but don’t appear to be quite at the level of the Chippewas. They need a turnover, badly. Instead, Central Michigan, led by the legs of LeFevour, moves the ball into Middle Tennessee State territory. It just looks like CMU can put this game away any time it wants, because its offense is moving the ball almost at will. But a holding penalty derails the drive, and Middle Tennessee State capitalizes by forcing another punt.

• The announcers are starting to sound bored, talking about Middle Tennessee State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. He was a production assistant at ESPN from 1995-1997. According to the announcers, he was “known for his wardrobe.” Well, if you have to be known for something…

• The ESPN announcer (Rece Davis) tells us T-Mac is back in the NBA. This reminds me of in the playoffs, when the announcers referred to Mariano Rivera as Mo. I hate nicknames. Then Lamont quotes Eminem as they show a road sign for 8-Mile. Pathetic. I can just see Ernie Harwell quoting Jimi Hendrix during the 1968 World Series.

• At halftime, Quinn talks about a lack of execution by his team. This guy has to be selected as the full-time head coach. He even has the “we played well but not well enough” lingo down.

Third Quarter

• Is it just me, or is Bowl Game just a phrase that means “more commercials?”

• Middle Tennessee State starts with the ball. Desmond Gee makes a first-down catch. He looks like a star. The Blue Raiders are doing an almost equal balance of pass and run after the half, and move the ball into Chippewas territory. As I write these positives, Marks makes his biggest mistake. Facing pressure from Dan Bazuin, he attempts to find Gee over the middle on third down. Instead, CMU linebacker Doug Kress picks it off and runs the ball back, untouched, 57 yards for a touchdown.

• You know, there’s only so many ways you can write that the game is over. But the pick pretty much seals the game. Dan Bazuin is a beast. He sacks Marks on the next possession, forcing a punt from MTSU’s end zone. Bazuin has two sacks midway through the third quarter, to go along with a batted pass. He made the All-MAC first team. says he will be a mid-round pick. That was posted a day before this game.

• A Central Michigan punt downs the Blue Raiders inside their 1, and MTSU changes quarterbacks, bringing in sophomore Joe Craddock. Interesting situation to bring your backup into a bowl game, on the 1-yard line, with your team losing. Against a dominating defense. Then again, Marks is probably banged up. Good luck Joe. He goes three-and-out.

• Oh, check that. A CMU defender ran into Smith on the punt, resulting in a personal foul. The drive continues. Meanwhile, we get Bobby Knight highlights, as a promo for Texas Tech’s game Thursday. No one watching this game cares about Bobby Knight right now, ESPN. Then again, they probably don’t care about half the things I’ve written about tonight, either. The Blue Raiders punt again as the third quarter ends.

Fourth quarter

• Gee gives MTSU some life, returning a CMU punt inside the Chippewas 15. A little more than 13 minutes remain in the game. Middle Tennessee State is dominating the time of possession, but has very little to show for it. It’s like a senator who spends a lot of time in office but doesn’t really have much to his name besides longevity. Still, MTSU moves closer, as DeMarco McNair scores from six yards out on a rush. More than 11 minutes remain, and, technically, the Blue Raiders are still in it. That’s bad news for me, as I’ve written diplomatically that the game is over about eight times.

• CMU responds to the score by driving inside the Blue Raiders’ 30. A pass interference on MTSU puts the Chippewas at the 15. CMU is staying aggressive, which I guess works for tit. But I want it to run the ball. I only gave the game an extra half hour of recording time on TiVo. CMU attempts a field goal with 7:04 left. Rick Abreski’s attempt from 33 yards misses – badly. It was a “Bengal” snap, though.

• Marks is back. Actually, he returned a while ago. Down 28-14, this drive has to result in a TD to give the Blue Raiders any kind of chance.

• ESPN reports Randy Johnson has drawn interest from the Diamondbacks. Why?

• MTSU has the ball at its own 29, facing a fourth and one. With no other alternative, the Blue Raiders go for it. But the handoff to McNair is stopped short. Again, MTSU was ready for this, and played hard. But CMU was better. Middle Tennessee State, which has never even been in a Division I-A bowl.

• The Chippewas move four yards, then bring on Abreski, who connects on a 42-yard field goal and a 31-14 score. Our sports editor Matt Sussman IMed me to say CMU has now won as many games in Ford Field this year as the Lions. Ouch.

• Bentley, in showing Kress’ interception, says he took it “all the way to the hizzouse.” Oh Lord. ESPN announcers need pop culture courses. Not so they’ll get better at references, but so they’ll be off TV for a while. That said, I have, for the most part, enjoyed the announcing.

• CMU’s Calvin Hissong picks off a Marks pass, and Quinn gets a Gatorade bath. Hopefully, he gets a contract to go with it.

• Quinn: “The statement’s been made.” Bazuin is interviewed, and he reaffirms that Quinn deserves the job. No argument here.

Thank You For Smoking
I'm a lifelong non-smoker. I lecture my friends who do smoke about why they need to stop. I've voted for just about any anti-smoking legeslation that has been on the ballot, even if it clashes with my libertarian values.
But Thank You For Smoking is the best movie I have seen in years. The movie is an hour and 27 minutes, and it will make you think for a long while afterwards.
I don't want to spoil it for you. For more information, here's a review from Roger Ebert.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Just a few things I don't really care about
Apparently, Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump have a feud going on. It's getting coverage on CNN and pretty much everywhere else.
I tried all night to think of a reason why anyone -- ANYONE -- should care about this.
There is a lawsuit involved. You'd think since Trump has more money than he knows what to do with, this would be a waste of time. You'd think since O'Donnell is on television every five seconds,she'd be too busy to care.
I am hoping for a settlement in this case: As punishment for wasting everyone's time, the two egotists should not be able to be on TV, be interviewed by newspapers, or suck up to a drunk Danny DeVito for a year. No more attention for two people who appaarently need it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What happened to the NFC?
The Super Bowl was usually an afterthought when I was growing up.

The Broncos, Bills, or Patriots would fight like crazy to get through the playoffs. The AFC Championship games of the 1980s and 1990s were some of the most memorable games ever, with John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino looking like superstars. Then the AFC team would wait two weeks, and get rolled over by the NFC team.

Yes, there were some exceptions, but for much of the 1980s and '90s, the Super Bowls were boring, because teams like the Redskins, 49ers Giants and Cowboys were superior to any team the AFC had.

From 1985-1997, the AFC lost every Super Bowl. At times, it seemed the NFC Championship game was for the outright title. The Super Bowl was a formality.

Fast forward to 2006. Fast forward to Sunday.

The Saints lost a home game to a team that had four wins. If they lose their next two games, they will finish with a normally uninspiring (though considering what they've been through, it's amazing) 9-7 record.

And yet, when the Saints returned to their lockers, they had shirts and hats waiting for them. Despite having nine wins, New Orleans has clinched the NFC South. With two weeks left in the regular season.

As the season has moved into its final weeks, a legitimate question needs to be asked: Where are the good teams in the NFC?

The Bears are 12-2, and have clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs after Sunday's win over Tampa Bay. But to get the win, the Bears had to go to overtime after blowing a 21-3 lead, at home, to a team with three wins this year (the Bears won, 34-31). I'd say the Buccaneers had nothing to play for, but even at 3-10, I'm not entirely certain they had been eliminated from the NFC playoff race.

The NFC has been hard to figure this season, and for that reason, I had no idea which hype machine to jump on.

Before the season, the Panthers were my choice to go to the Super Bowl. With wide receiver Steve Smith and a defense led by superstar Julius Peppers, they looked like a reasonable favorite. But they have disappointed, and were embarrassed at home by the Steelers Sunday, 37-3, to fall to 6-8.

The Bears were a popular team to talk about for a while. Then they almost lost to the Cardinals, and while they have been won all but two of their games, have not always looked stellar. Giving up 31 points to Tampa Bay is reason for skepticism.

After fearing the Bears were not reincarnated from the Buddy Ryan/Mike Ditka days, I started pumping up Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Then the Saints destroyed them in Dallas last week.

Which brings us back to New Orleans, and pictures of frowning players stuffing shirts into gym bags. Despite an uplifting season and the emergence of Reggie Bush, Drew Brees, and coach Sean Peyton, the celebration appeared subdued, at best.

At this point, the final NFC playoff team will finish no better than 9-7. Four NFC teams stand at 6-8, and none have been eliminated from the picture.

With two weeks left and so many teams (including the 49ers) having a shot at the playoffs, it'd be ridiculous to pick an NFC Super Bowl team right now.

But we might be able to pick which conference the Super Bowl champion will come from.
Also can be read on

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mora wants the Washington job ... oh wait, he was joking
Somewhere, John Kerry is smiling.

Song quote of the day
Then you sense a change
Nothing feels the same
all your dreams are strange
love comes walkin' in --Sammy Haggar

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kucinich, Obama
So, Dennis Kucinich is at it again. After running for president two years ago and getting no major support, the congressman from Ohio has announced he can't get enough of losing, and will run again.
I'm surprised by the amount of contempt he's showing for his constituents by chasing this pipe dream. In 2004, he was the last candidate to concede to John Kerry. He was a big hit with the Hollywood crowd, and spent time campaigning all over the country, despite having no chance.
Now, just a few weeks after being re-elected, he's ready to run again.
I used to live in Kucinich's district. I am offended by his ego, but not really sympathetic to the people of Northeast Ohio who voted for him. The people knew this guy was out there, knew he could run again for president. But they still voted for him. People must not mind a congressman who puts his personal interests ahead of his district's. He's not alone in that regard, but the way in which he goes about it is almost stunning.
- What is with Barack Obama? Rather, not what's with him, but what's with the media blitz?
He's charming, photogenic, and well-spoken.
And the media can't get enough of him. He was on Monday Night Football this week. Oprah Winfrey loves him. And he's been a senator for just under two years.
Here's what I know about Senator Obama: He's inexperienced, and he's very liberal.
I don't really care what he looks like, what he sounds like, or how much people love him. I care about issues, and where he stands on them. In the pieces I've seen on the man, there's very little substance. Everyone talks about his charm and charisma, but no one is talking about who he is.
I'm used to politicians talking a good game. But actions count more. What limited record there is on the senator tells me he's not a candidate I would vote for.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Song quote of the day
Say, what are you lookin' at
I was a superman but looks are deceiving--Stone Temple Pilots

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Porter called Winslow a WHAT?
Looks like Mr. Porter may be paying out some money.
Still, the best news all week is the target, Kellen Winslow, declined comment. First time for everything.

Shuffling the Ipod, V2
Five songs at random: Here we go
Note: I try to write about anything that comes to mind when the song comes on, and finish my rantings when the song ends.

Diamond Girl--Seals and Crofts
Interesting thing about this song ...I seem to remember my dad not being a big fan of it. He loves Seals and Crofts, telling me once that "I can't really explain how popular they were at one time."
I personally love this song, with the harmony and the not so obvious melody. Part of me thinks if the group had stayed together, rather than taking the money and running to Mexico (or whatever), more great songs would have followed. The beauty of the band was, in my opinion, the harmonies, and the fact that they can't be easily defined as either folk or pop. I also think there hasn't really been a duo like them since they split.

I Should have known Better--The Beatles
Every time I think of this song, I think of the scene from the film Hard Days Night, where the band is playing cards on a train, then performing. With John Lennon giving a good vocal performance, and a cathy harmonica line, the song is upbeat and moves along nicely. It also is a good display of Lennon's underrated voice. In the last part of the song, they forgo the double-tracked vocals and let John go, and he's great.

Dr. Robert -- The Beatles
I can't remember if this song is directly related to the first time Lennon and George Harrison tried LSD, unknowingly. The story I remember is the two being given some in their drinks, but they were not told what it was. I don't know if the song is directly related to that event, or just what The Beatles Anthology used for retelling the story.

$1,000 Wedding --Gram Parsons
This is actually one of my favorite songs by Gram, appearing on his final album, Grevious Angel. I read the song was composed during Gram's time in the Flying Burrito Bros., but originally went over nine minutes.
I'm glad he waited to record it, because the harmonies he creates with Emmylou Harris in the song are what makes it stand out.
The song is still pretty long, and some might be scared away from it, but once it moves to the middle portion, it's quite gripping. It's a sad song, like a lot of Gram's work that he recorded on his final album, but it's one that needs to be heard.

Wouldn't it Be Nice -- The Beach Boys
For my money, this is the best vocal work ever done by Brian Wilson, At his peak as a songwriter, he goes trough this song with a youthful enthusiasm that fits the song so well. Mike Love sings the bridge, and the harmonies are excellent. This was the first song on Pet Sounds. I wouldn't call it the best song on the album (God Only Knows was an amazing musical achievement few bands will ever match), but it set the tone for one of the best albums ever recorded in any style of music.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Savings Bonds: The Giants should have passed
There are issues that surround Barry Bonds and will follow him for the rest of his career, and beyond.
But of all the questions that have hounded him over the years, the biggest one might have to be asked this week, after Bonds signs a one-year deal with the Giants: Who on earth thought it was a good idea to give Barry Bonds $16 million?
For the sake of argument, I'll forgo the legal issues surrounding Bonds at the moment, and even pretend (as if it were possible) that the issues do not exist.
Sure, Giants' management sees a guy that has hit 734 homers in his career, and who has been the primary drawing card for the team since he arrived in 1993.
I'm sorry, but all I see is a 42-year-old guy who turns 43 in July. I see a guy who has hit only 31 homers in the last two seasons, missing more than 170 games over that span.
Bonds is also someone who would benefit greatly from only having to swing the bat. By signing in the National League, the 20-year veteran will have to pick up a glove nearly every game he starts.
Those who are in favor of the signing can point to two things: First, Bonds is 22 homers away from breaking Henry Aaron's all-time mark, a moment which will result in a number of sellouts and revenue.
The second reason is Bonds' proven track record as a draw. The Giants drew more than 3 million fans in 2006, and since the Giants managed just 76 wins last season, you'd have to figure it was his allure that brought them in.
But assuming that all those things remain consistent in 2007, can the salary still be justified? In over 20 seasons in the Major Leagues, the slugger has appeared in one World Series. The Giants have missed the postseason in each of the last three years — all with Bonds' off the field issues hovering over the franchise. Does the signing really help the Giants contend? Given Bonds problems getting along with some teammates, isn't it possible the signing does just the opposite?
What I really don't understand about the $16 million deal is that no other teams appeared to show much interest, much like the last time Bonds was on the free agent market. So why did the Giants give him so much?
In 1993, as a free agent, Barry Bonds reached an agreement with the Giants that was for six years and $43 million. He was 28 then, coming off a season in which he batted .311, hit 34 homers and stole 39 bases.
Then, it was worth a bit more than $6 million. Now, at 42, Bonds convinced the Giants he's worth nearly three times that.
Money sure doesn't buy you what it used to. What it is, is anyone's guess.
This article also can be read at

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Browns Thursday Night
Here's the problem with Thursday night games: They benefit the home team. A short week, with travel, puts the road team at a disadvantage. There have been five Thursday games this season. The home teams have won four of them. Now, the first one really doesn't count, because Miami and Pittsburgh played in week one, but in the two NFL network games, both played in which the road team was probably better, Kansas City and Cincinnati took it to what looked like tired Broncos and Ravens teams.
Basically, I don't see how the Browns win tonight.
*Derek Anderson should start tonight, regardless of whether Charlie Frye can go. This is not the start of a quarterback controversy, but rather, common sense. Putting a banged up Charlie Frye out there on four days rest in a game with no playoff implications makes no sense. Anderson is playing against a team which has never seen him. This might be a chance for Anderson to say to Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage that they don't need to go out and get a veteran QB for next season.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Kosar interested in Miami job
Bernie Kosar was one of the smartest quarterbacks I have ever watched. He understood the game so well, and from his commentary on Browns' preseason games, obviously still does.
But Kosar's interest in the Miami coaching job reminds me of when Ohio State fired John Cooper, and Chris Spielman made waves about wanting the job. It's a nice idea in theory, but it's unrealistic. As it happened, Ohio State brought in Jim Tressel, who has been one of the greatest hires in modern college football history. Of course, he had a terrific college coaching resume.
Most coaches need to start somewhere other than the top. Even in the pros, players start as position coaches before being elevated.
It works this way in the GM circles to. An exception is, of course, Matt Millen, who jumped from the booth to the top in Detroit.
We all know how that worked out.
The truth is, a college coaching job entails so much, I don't know how anyone without some kind of coaching experience could handle it.
Kosar may be interested, but I can't imagine Miami giving him more than a courtesy interview.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Indians sign two old guys
So, what does 3.7 million buy you?
If you answered a 42-year old pitcher who was considered a veteran when I was in middle school and just had surgery, you're correct.
Roberto Hernandez has come to Cleveland about eight years too late. His numbers (0-3, 3.11) don't look too bad, and certainly better than anything the Indians had last season.
But he's 42. Unless he has some magic potion (which is not banned in the steroids policy), how long will he last?
I had never even heard of Aaron Fultz, which either means I haven't been paying as much attention to baseball as I used to, or Fultz isn't that good.
I wanted to believe the latter, but then I read this quote by Indians' GM Mark Shapiro:
“We had a hard time getting left-handers out last season,“ he said. “This won’t put all the burden on our three young lefties — Tony Sipp, Juan Lara and Rafael Perez.’’
Ummm ... who? (OK, I have heard of Perez, and Lara I vaguely remember from the cast of thousands the Indians' called up when the season was over. Like, in May.)
Fultz is 33, which I'd think is a tad old, except he's comes in with Hernandez, which makes him look like an extra in Good Morning Miss Bliss.
And honestly, 33 is pretty young for a reliever. Besides, at 33, he's still young enough to play a college junior in the movie The Program.
I do approve of Shapiro being proactive in the bullpen, and I understand that finding a strong bullpen often takes luck and timing.
I hope that by August I'm eating crow on the two signings.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

TiVo Blogging the MAC title game
This is not a liveblog — I worked during the game — but rather a TiVo-Blog. I doubt that’s groundbreaking. But who cares.

• My first gripe comes before the game even starts. The guide says the game starts at 7:30 p.m. But it’s 7:38 (TiVo-time) and the announcers (Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit) are still talking. The kickoff finally comes at 7:46.

First Quarter

• Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour gets the ball first. The MAC Freshman of the Year leads the Chippewas to a 3-and-out. One thing immediately noticeable is the fact that the game is at a neutral site, though one has to imagine the Chippewas have the advantage. Up until a few years ago, the game was hosted by one of the division winners. I assume moving the game to Ford Field was a financial one, but the atmosphere is somewhat lacking. There are more empty seats than at the end of a Lions game.

• Kalvin McRae, Ohio’s running back who is the leading force on offense, looks outstanding on his first few runs, but Ohio quarterback Austin Everson misses a wide-open receiver, and it leads to a Bobcat punt.

• The announcers talk a great deal early on about Central Michigan coach Brian Kelly making a jump to a bigger school. Quarterbacks aren’t the only ones that benefit from the MAC’s success. Just ask Urban Meyer and Terry Hoeppner.

• CMU strikes first, with LeFevour leading his team on a 7-play, 89 yard drive that finishes on a pass to Obed Cetoute. Cetoute caught the pass deep in the end zone, but had possession and was inbounds. Replay confirms it. (Why do college officials use that word?). LeFevour was 5-5 on the drive with his passes. Honestly, for a freshman, he’s downright scary.

• Ohio’s offense doesn’t appear to be able to pass on the Chippewas. Ohio’s success this season have come from McRae, but even Frank Solich seems to know the Bobcats can’t go to him every time, something some MAC teams have done in the past. Still, it needs to show it can complete passes to make sure teams don’t key in on McRae (Yes, I’m writing obvious analysis in present tense after the game is over. Any problems? Good).

• Between the new college clock rules and fast forwarding through commercials, this game is flying by.

Second quarter

• A bad punt gives the Bobcats terrific field position at CMU’s 32. And Ohio has a new quarterback. Not sure if it’s injury-related, or if Frank Solich is channeling Whitey Herzog in the seventh game of the ’85 Series, and “seen enough.” (Note: It was an injury) The new quarterback is… (fighting urge to cheat and check stats)… oh, never mind. Touchdown McRae. Saved by the bell. It’s 7-7 with 11:10 to go in the half.

• ESPN’s 30/30 tells me Eva Longoria is engaged to Tony Parker. Think they’ll… oh wait, LeFevour finds Damien Linson for 71 yards (He finished with 186 receiving). Exciting. Back to Longoria and Parker. On one hand, it’s a bad sign not only for every man out there, but for the participants in this game. These guys give so much of their bodies, and their lives, and yet women like Longoria prefer French-born basketball players. What message does that send?

• Herbstreit says new Ohio QB Brad Bower “physically… has more to offer than Everson.” Boy, I bet Everson never gets tired of hearing that. Bower completes a pass for a first down, but receiver Chris Garrett fumbles the ball with 6:52 to go, and CMU recovers. With the way Ohio’s offense is, you had to figure a 2-score deficit might be too much to come back from. LeFevour (Man this kid is amazing. Over 300 yards passing when it’s done) takes off on a third and 12 for 38 yards, setting up a Chippewas’ field goal. I read the stats, which were pretty impressive, but this is the first time I’ve seen him play. He plays with a lot of poise, which means he could be a major force for three more years.

• Apparently MacGyver (or the guy that played him) graduated from OU. Wow. I have lived in this state 26 years and never knew that. I wonder if they have classes at Ohio University on how to turn broken shoelaces into explosive devices. Actually, I wonder more about whether they have acting classes.

• A touchdown pass from LeFevour to Cetoute (which would have pretty much iced the game) is nullified by a motion penalty with just over a minute left. That becomes important after LeFevour gets sacked by OU’s Jameson Hartke, then by Todd Koenig. It sets up a third and goal from the 33. Hmmm. Well, time for Kelly to reach into that third and forever playbook. May I suggest the Annexation of Puerto Rico? Oh wait, that was Little Giants. We don’t really get to see the play, as ESPN cuts back too late from a CMU commercial. I think it was pretty much a QB draw. The result is a missed fieild goal by Rick Albreski.

Third Quarter

• I assume many viewers tuned in now, after the killer 1-2 punch of My Name is Earl and The Office, the two funniest shows on TV. As for me? Let’s just say TiVo has helped me twice tonight. Just think, if I didn’t have TiVo, I wouldn’t watch nearly as much TV. Thank goodness for technology, finding new ways to keep me away from physical activity.

• ESPN 30/30 tells me Bud Selig wants to retire and write a book. I think it will be called How I Looked the Other Way During One of the Most Fraudulent Periods in baseball History.

• Ohio gets the ball first, using its running game from McRae and some nice runs and passes from Bower. It’s what OU has done well a lot this season: Controlling the ball and the clock. The drive soaks over seven minutes off the clock, and ends when kicker Matt Lasher kicks a 34-yard field goal, cutting the Chippewas’ lead to 17-10. It was probably Ohio’s best chance to get back into it, and settling for three just wasn’t enough. Credit CMU’s defense.

• ESPN is asking who the Heisman Trophy winner will be. I can answer that with two words: Troy Smith. So I pretty much agree with everyone else.

• LeFevour looks to answer, and leads CMU down the field. But he makes his first mistake of the night, and is intercepted by Michael Mitchell. This just got very interesting. Maybe not this TiVo-blog, but the game.

• And on the first play on the drive, Bower goes down, so we get to see Ohio’s third quarterback of the night — Josh Febus. A sophomore from Dublin, Ohio who hasn’t thrown a pass this year, Febus couldn’t have imagined being in a spot like this. It’s perhaps the major turning point in the game. Febus throws consecutive incompletions and the Bobcats punt with less than five minutes to go in the quarter. OU’s defense does its job, forcing a CMU punt.

• Ohio’s in a tough spot. It’s fighting for the game with a quarterback who has almost no college experience. It puts incredible pressure on Ohio’s defense, not just to stop CMU, but to force a turnover. Febus just doesn’t look ready to lead the team on a long drive.

• As it happens, LeFevour leads the Chippewas on a game-clinching drive, completing a screen to Ontario Sneed (does he hang with Mean Mr. Mustard?) for a TD.

• Bower comes back, giving Herbstreit an opportunity for the line of the night: “Brad Bower is going to need a Jack Bauer-effort.” As ABC officials run to the phone to complain about the cross-network promotion, I wonder if Herbstreit wants Bower to roughly interrogate Central Michigan, then expose a government coverup all while maintaining a strained relationship with his daughter.

• Down 14 points with 11 minutes left, Ohio abandons the run, which means using McRae almost exclusively as a receiver. Mike Ogle collects his seventh tackle, but it seems like his 18th. He’s been all over the place. On fourth and one from midfield, Solich (who Fowler says needs to avoid the option offense with “the next job in mind,”) goes for it, and gets it. Nine minutes remain. Now seven and a half remain, as Ohio isn’t showing much urgency. Bower is sacked on third and one, forcing a punt. The good news is the Bobcats down the punt at the four.

• Well, so much for that. Sneed (I promise no more Beatles references) takes off for a 96-yard score. Okay, it’s really over now.

• Still, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened had the Bobcats not lost their two best quarterbacks to injury (for two series). But it’s not like the season is over for Ohio. Unlike a few years ago, when MAC teams were guaranteed just one bowl game, the MAC has four.

Northern Illinois will play in the San Diego County Union Poinsettia Bowl (what?) Dec. 19 against TCU. Central Michigan has the Motor City Bowl (wasn’t the point for bowls to be in warm-weather areas?), Western Michigan has the International Bowl (played in Canada, but with a 100-yard field) and Ohio plays in the GMAC Bowl in Alabama. I suppose I could rant about there being too many bowls, but I guess it’s good for the MAC, so I’ll hold off.

• Central Michigan triumphs, 31-10. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that much of the attention from Herbstreit, Fowler and Erin Andrews (sideline reporter) after CMU had won its first MAC title since 1994 focused on why Kelly hadn’t been splashed by Gatorade.