Monday, May 29, 2006

You're With Me, Leather

if you don't get it, you better click here

And now on to more relevant things (though what could be more relevant than Mr. He-Could-Go-All-The-Way going above and beyond Ron Mexico using the best pickup line of all time?)...

- Yes, Michigan's baseball team got mildly screwed over by the selection committee being named a #3 seed. There is some solace, however, that they are going to the exact same Atlanta regional they played in last year where they lost the third game of the opening series in the bottom of the 9th to South Carolina. So they get a chance to exorcise those demons as well as actually win some games. They also manage to get into the bracket with Georgia Tech who is the last #1 seed so they avoid any potential early round matches with powerhouses like Clemson.

- Did I forget to mention the strange coincidence of Michigan's first round baseball opponent being Vanderbilt? Well, guess who the Wolverine football team opens the season with on Sept. 2nd at noon? Those same Commodores.

- I realize it is going to be quite belated, but at some point in the not too distant future, I'm going to take a look at the Green Bay Packers offseason. Let's see, out with Javon Walker and in with AJ Hawk, Ryan Pickett, Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings, Abdul Hodge, Marquand Manuel, etc. Yeah, sounds pretty damn good to me. Playoff chances for next year? I'm guessing 50% off the top of my head, but I'll get a little more in-depth on that too.

-More proof that Ohio State fans are crazy. Yes, I know this has been covered everywhere, but damn it, it still deserves another mention. I think the smart ones just leave the state at an early age.

- The official first day of summer. I guess back in Ann Arbor, that makes some folks happy. Gotta admit, I loved the weather in summer in A2 and being able to grab a parking spot or a table at a restaurant easily, but you can't deny how much slower the pace around town becomes. There's a reason everybody is so full of energy when classes start back up and the first football Saturday rolls around.

- And finally, gotta give a little love to the fans at the Oilers game. Kudos to the idiots in Anaheim that booed the Canadian national anthem and made our entire country look like idiots (as if we needed more help). So although the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs are a complete farce this year, this was still a very cool moment. Let's just hope the crappy Oilers team doesn't actually win the whole thing or the world would actually be upside down...

The Road to Omaha

Memo to NCAA baseball selection committee:

Big Ten regular season champs, Big Ten tournament champs, 42-19 record, wins over #2 seed Troy and #3 seed Notre Dame, and we get a #3 seed and trip to Atlanta for Georgia Tech's Regional? Here's a link to the snow job by the NCAA baseball committee that has zero love for any team north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Detroit always was a baseball town

Beleaguered Tigers fans have tried to tell anyone that would listen for years that Detroit was a baseball town. They recalled the World Series of 1968 and 1984 and even the playoff run of 1987 and how electric the atmosphere in the city was, but few would listen as the Tigers suffered through one laughable season after another in front of half empty stadiums.

But now? It's a baseball town after all. The Tigers are winning games at a breakneck pace and fans are coming out of the woodwork. There is real excitement back at Comerica Park. People are actually talking about the Tigers again. Hell, I enjoy just flipping through the paper in the morning to gaze at the baseball standings and see Detroit looking down on everybody. They currently sit at 34-14 an amazing 20 games over .500 and have a 2.5 game lead on the White Sox for the best record in the AL Central, AL, and all of baseball. They have a 6 game lead on the Yankees for the wildcard spot. And they just started a 10 game home stand that will be played in front of a nearly packed house every day.

It now seems like 2003 was so long ago when the Tigers need a late season rally to finish 43-119 and avoid setting an all time loss record. Dave Dombrowski has improved the roster every year and now he got a manager in Jim Leyland that commands the respect of everybody in the clubhouse. Just ask Brandon Inge what it feels like...

"As much as we were panicking and stressing out about the 2003 season, it's a complete, flip-around opposite this year," he said. "I can't wait to get to the ballpark. I can't wait to start a game. I can't wait to win. And everyone is having a great time.

"In a sense, all our wishes and hopes have come true this year as far as a turnaround from 2003."

But how long will this last? At what point does the clock strike midnight for Cinderella? Let's not forget that's band of geniuses pegged them for 4th in the AL Central behind everybody except Kansas City. Well, I guess 2 of the 10 "experts" picked them for 3rd so I'll give that pair a little bit of a pass. Baseball Prospectus runs a fascinating scenario every morning where they update the playoff odds for each team. They do this by factoring in a team's current record, their runs scored/allowed, and their SOS and then they simulate the rest of the season 1 million times to see how many of that 1 million they make the playoffs. Want to guess what the Tigers current odds are? 86.4% to make the playoffs and 73.1% to win the division. They also run a sort of adjusted odds report that takes into account how good the team was predicted to be before the season. That one knocks down the Tigs playoff chances to only 83.6% and still pegs them with an average record of 100-62.

So when will this fairy tale end? The World Series? A second half swoon and out of the playoffs? I don't have a damn clue, but right now it's the most fun I've had following the Tigers ever, since I wasn't quite old enough to have anything more than fuzzy memories of 1984.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Coming soon to an NFL field near you

Michigan Football: It's Gone Global

The University of Michigan Athletic Department has announced the new radio deals after old stand by WJR went to Michigan State. And my, oh my, have they swung for the fences. Used to be your only chance for listening to the game live was to catch in on WJR's 50,000 watt AM broadcast or their network. Now they've upped the ante.

-live FM broadcasts of Michigan football for the first time ever on 104.3, the strongest FM station in the state out of Detroit.
-AM broadcasts on Windsor's own 50,000 watt station AM 800 which can be heard from Indiana through New York
-Live (yes, live) and FREE (you heard that right) streaming audio of games available on

Yeah, there's also expanded coverage of Michigan basketball and hockey in Michigan. But the biggest news of all? How about free streaming audio of all Michigan sports. No more of this pay for listening to radio crap that CSTV was selling via MGoBlue. They're going FREE for everything now which is sweeeeeet news for Michigan fans like myself that no longer live anywhere near Ann Arbor. So if you're in Hong Kong or London, you are only 1 click away from listening live to Michigan sports.


Flashback in Tigers history

June 20th, 1993, Tiger Stadium, Detroit, MI.

John Doherty got the win over Ricky Bones as the Tigers beat the Brewers 7-3. Mickey Tettleton led the way on offense going 2/3 including a first inning grand slam. This game bumped the Tigs record to 43-25 on the season and 18 games over .500.

Detroit then embarked on a 9 game road trip. They promptly got swept in Baltimore, swept in Boston, and swept in New York. They returned home for 3 games with Texas losing 2 of 3. Their record was back to 44-37. It would be another 13 years before they were 18 games over .500.

I only mention this because after their 5th straight win last night (and 12 of 13), the Tigers sit at 32-14 and 18 games over .500.

The last time they were 19 games over .500? How about 8/28/1988 when they lost to the Brewers 12-10. Stay tuned as the Tigs go for win #6 in a row against Kansas City today.

Also a nice article on CNNSI yesterday talking about the resurgence in Motown


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

And this is why I dislike traditional thinking

Jim Leyland (and apparently Tom Gage as well), think on base percentage isn't that important of a stat for an offense. They note that it is something that can be overcome, like how the Tigs have overcome a middle of the road OBP to post a 30-14 record. Leyland loves slugging percentage.

Well no shit. When you have the best pitching in the majors (by far), your team will overcome a lot of offensive shortcomings. That doesn't make the offense good, however. The best measure of a team's offense is how many runs they score. Want to know what one of the absolute best predictors of runs scored is? How about on base percentage. Here are the top 5 and bottom 5 teams in the majors in OBP right now along with number of runs scored:

1) New York Yankees, .371, 244
2) Cleveland Indians, .367, 255
3) Boston Red Sox, .364, 231
4) Los Angeles Dodgers, .357, 242
5) Toronto Blue Jays, .357, 244
26) Pittsburgh Pirates, .316, 185
27) Kansas City Royals, .307, 154
28) Tampa Bay Devil Rays, .304, 186
29) Chicago Cubs, .301, 160
30) Los Angeles Angels, .300, 185

Yeah, notice a trend here? Let's try the same thing for slugging percentage.

1) Toronto Blue Jays, .480, 244
2) Milwaukee Brewers, .473, 228
3) Detroit Tigers, .472, 218
4) Chicago White Sox, .471, 248
5) Cleveland Indians, .475, 255
26) Minnesota Twins, .396, 211
27) San Diego Padres, .381, 209
28) Los Angeles Angels, .377, 185
29) Kansas City Royals, .375, 154
30) Chicago Cubs, .363, 160

Not quite as strong a predictor as OBP now is it? How about we look at the highest scoring teams in the majors and list their MLB rank in OBP and SLG (as well as OPS) and see what it looks like?

1) Cleveland Indians, #2 OBP, #5 SLG, #2 OPS
2) Chicago White Sox, #6 OBP, #4 SLG, #3 OPS
3) Toronto Blue Jays, #5 OBP, #1 SLG, #1 OPS
4) New York Yankees, #1 OBP, #10 SLG, #5 OPS
5) Los Angeles Dodgers, #4 OBP, #16 SLG, #11
6) Cincinnati Reds, #8 OBP, #8 SLG, #9 OPS
7) Atlanta Braves, #16 OBP, #15 SLG, #15 OPS
8) Arizona Diamondbacks, #7 OBP, #13 SLG, #10 OPS
9) Boston Red Sox, #3 OBP, #7 SLG,. #6 OPS
10) Milwaukee Brewers, #11 OBP, #2 SLG, #4 OPS

As you can see, only 1 team from outside the top 11 of OBP manages to crack the top 10 in runs (Atlanta). The top 5 in runs scored all rank in the top 6 in OBP. The bottom line is that if you want to score runs, you need to have runners on the bases.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 22, 2006


An up and coming Michigan football blog

Why didn't I have a link up for this earlier?It's just too damn funny for everyday reading.

There are lots and lots of quality blogs out there nowadays and I can honestly say that the vast majority of my internet sports reading is from blogs. I basically only use the mainstream sports websites for reading AP wire stories or digging through their stats databases.

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

The Detroit Tigers took 2 of 3 from the Reds this weekend and are just rolling at 9-1 over their last 10 games. They currently sit at 29-14 on the season with a 1 game lead on the White Sox for the best record in the AL (also the best record in the majors). The pitching staff has been lights out leading the majors in almost every important statistical category including ERA, save percentage, shutouts, on base percentage allowed, etc. And this is with Jeremy Bonderman having a couple rough outings.

What's not to like? If they keep it up, expect to see a lot of packed houses in Comerica this summer.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Big Ten Champs

Everybody knows Michigan is a powerhouse in the Big Ten in football leading the way in conference titles. Hockey leads the nation in national titles, Softball is the only Big Ten team to ever win a national title, swimming and diving are annual powers, the gymnastics and wrestling teams are national powers, etc. Well, guess who's back in baseball??? The 2006 Big Ten Champion Michigan Wolverines, that's who! It's their Big Ten leading 33rd conference crown, though first since 1997.

Hats off to Rich Maloney and the boys. Now it's off to the Big Ten tourney and then the College World Series.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dumb Asses

If you'd like to see what stupidity is all about, please click this link. Who are the idiots that dreamed up this one? You're against the school making more money to fund the entire athletic department and finance better facilities for the basketball program? Sounds like a bunch of Ann Arbor's finest left wing liberal nut jobs got together for this project: SaveTheBigHouse is a non-profit coalition of Michigan alumni, faculty, students and fans who believe that any renovation or enlargement of Michigan Stadium should provide equal amenities for all fans, and should honor and protect the stadium’s classic form and character. We oppose construction of private luxury boxes, which – in dividing fans by income – would undermine the unified and egalitarian tradition that makes Saturday afternoons in Michigan Stadium a thrilling, unmatched experience for all fans. Go Blue!

WTF? "Dividing fans by income"? Have you ever been to a sporting event in America? Last I checked Super Bowl tickets were impossible to obtain. BCS bowl games will run you into nearly $200 face value. For crying out loud, the mean price of a ticket in Michigan Stadium last year was probably $75 (when factoring in both student tix and PSLs). That's egalitarian? These people need to get a life and stop trying to slow down the progress of the Michigan Athletic Department. If you want to see a winning product on the field, you have to let the blue hairs fork over even more of their cash.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Super Mario Manningham

Coming this fall to a football field in the midwest...

Big thanks to CzaBehave on the Wolverine for pointing it out.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Time for a little mathematical what if

The Tigers did sweep the Indians today and sit at 24-13 which is the 2nd best record in the majors just a 1/2 game back of the ChiSox. I think at the beginning of the year most people predicted the Tigs to win somewhere around 85 games give or take a few. Well, Detroit has likely played over it's head a bit so far. But what about the rest of the year?

Starting today at 24-13, if you thought the Tigs were a XX-XX team before the season then they should finish with a XX-XX record:

80-82 prediction would give a 86-76 record
85-77 prediction would give a 90-72 record
75-87 prediction would give a 82-80 record

So even if the Tigs only play like an 85 win team the rest of the year, they're still on pace for 90 wins this year. If they play like a crappy 75 win team, they're still on pace to finish over .500.

Don't underestimate the power of a quick start.


Detroit Tigers pitching

Yeah, yeah, the Tigs are 23-13 and looking to sweep the Indians today and sitting only 1/2 game back of the White Sox. Chris Shelton got back on track with a HR, Magglio is playing phenomenal, etc. But how about that pitching staff? They only made some "minor" additions in the offseason picking up aging Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones to add a little stability to the rotation and pen respectively. Then they brought up youngins' Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya. But my, oh my, how they've been pitching. Here are some numbers to chew on:

ERA - 3.32 (#1 in the majors)
OPS - .667 (#1 in the majors)
K/BB ratio - 2.19 (#6 in the majors)
WHIP - 1.17 (#1 in the majors)
HR - 29 (#3 in the majors)
BB - 94 (#3 in the majors and coincidentally #3 in their division)
OBP - .297 (#1 in the majors)
Stolen bases - 8 (#1 in the majors - thanks Pudge)
Saves - 14 (#1 in the majors)
Save% - 88% (#2 in the majors)
Shutouts - 6 (#1 in the majors)

That's unreal if you ask me and nobody could have predicted it back in March. But hey, the season is almost 25% through and they just keep on chugging along. Here is what the starting rotation looks like at this point:

Kenny Rogers, 6-2, 3.23 ERA
Jeremy Bonderman, 4-2, 3.74 ERA
Mike Maroth, 4-2, 2.55 ERA
Nate Robertson, 3-2, 3.27 ERA
Justin Verlander, 4-3, 3.77 ERA

Verlander is bringing up the rear as the #5 starter, the worst record, and the worst ERA. But guess what? He's made 6 quality starts in 7 starts this year (QS=6 innings or more and 3 runs or less) which is the highest percentage on the team. That's a pretty damn balanced rotation if you ask me. Hopefully Mike Maroth can keep the magic working today as they take on last year's #5 starter Jason Johnson.

Everybody that said they spent too much money on Kenny Rogers please stand up...


Bo Schembechler vs Lloyd Carr

Nothing compares to the May, June, July football doldrums. Sure the season is over, but now Signing Day is long gone for recruiting fans and the NFL draft has come and gone as well. There isn't much of anything until fall practices start in August. Thought I'd peruse the first 11 years of Bo Schembechler's tenure and compare it with Lloyd Carr's 11 years in Ann Arbor.

First up? Bo

Total record: 104 wins, 19 losses, 3 ties (.837 winning percentage)
Bowl record: 0-7 (5 Rose Bowls)
Conference titles: 1 Championship, 7 CoChampionships
Nonconference opp. record (does not include bowl games): 161-194-6 (.454)
Number of nonconference opponents with 7+ wins: 6

Next up? Lloyd

Total record: 102 wins, 34 losses (.739 winning percentage)
Bowl record: 5-6 (1-2 in Rose Bowls)
Conference titles: 2 Championships, 3 CoChampionships, 1 National Championship
Nonconference opp. record: 213-224-1 (.487)
Number of nonconference opponents with 7+ wins: 16

So...who ya got? I'd call it pretty even. Bo gets points for more conference titles and better winning percentage. Lloyd gets points for a national title and a tougher schedule. Bo gets points for building the program from scratch. Lloyd gets points for playing on a much more level playing field (scholarship limits, everybody on TV all the time, etc) and actually winning bowl games.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

More YouTube Fun

I still want to be like Mike...


Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Skeletor Show

As a child of the 80s, I found this hilarious.


Some early summer thoughts on Michigan Football

First up, the offense:

QB: Chad Henne is entering his 3rd year as starter for Michigan. He came out like gangbusters as a freshman, though he was aided by throwing to Biletnikoff winner Braylon Edwards who caught everything in sight. Last year, some considered it a bit of a sophomore slump even though his numbers were roughly the same as his freshman year. Well, I'm expecting big things out of Chad this year. He should have a much improved ground game backing him up, as well as a plethora of talented receivers to air it out to. Not much depth here, however, as RS Frosh Jason Forcier is the backup after Matt Gutierrez transferred to Idaho State.

RB: Mike Hart is still the man. He missed a ton of time last year with all sorts of injuries, but he is back to 100% healthy and looking to explode back on to the national scene. When he's getting carries, he's a threat to go for 150+ in every game and he's had a number of 200 yard games as well. He also catches the ball well out of the backfield. He is simply one of my favorite running backs of all time with his non stop effort and his ability to break tackles by much bigger and stronger players. But as good as Hart is, depth is where Michigan really excels at RB. Kevin Grady has slimmed down and added some speed because he was a bit too much of a bruiser last year. Watch for him to hit the holes even faster and cut quicker this year adding a very nice change of pace from Hart. And then when you want to throw in a speedy scat back? Take your pick from senior Alijah Bradley or true freshman Carlos Brown. Bradley is very smart and has great vision. Brown is the burner that is a threat to go the distance when he gets loose. What it all adds up to is a very deep and dangerous group of backs that is probably amongst the best in the nation.

WR/TE: Mario Manningham. Just write that name down and pull it out at the end of the year when All Big Ten teams are named. He's that good. Braylon Edwards, David Terrell, Desmond Howard, Derrick Alexander, Marquise Walker, etc. have all come through Ann Arbor in recent years, but none can touch when Super Mario did as a freshman. The kid just knows how to get open and how to catch the ball. With Jason Avant gone this year, look for Manningham to get a lot of balls thrown his way. 75+ catches and 1200 yards are not out of the question as he looks to continue the long line for dominant receivers at Michigan. Who else will be fighting for catches? Steve Breaston is the obvious choice for #2, but his career as a WR has been filled with question marks (as opposed to his career as a return man). Last year, he was given the shot at becoming the deep threat to replace Braylon but he showed a horrible ability to adjust to the ball in the air and misplayed numerous deep passes. He still excels when catching the ball in the open field and using his return skills to make people look silly (see his 50+ yd TD against Iowa last year). I expect the Michigan coaches to do a better job of using him in his final year and just letting him do what he does best. Adrian Arrington (the tall skinny guy) and LaTerryal Savoy (the tall strong guy) are both vying for the 3rd receiver spot and a chance to be a big target in the redzone. Should be an interesting battle but I like Savoy. Antonio Bass was slated to be a jack-of-all-trades again this year, but he is out for the season with a serious knee injury suffered this spring. Hopefully he can get healthy and be ready to fly next year. At TE, Tyler Ecker is the returning semi-starter who split time with Tim Massaquoi last year. I really like his skills as a receiver, but I cannot get the images of him ending the OSU game and the Nebraska game last year with bone-headed decisions. Carson Butler will be a RS-freshman this year and has immense talent. He's out of the Antonio Gates "I was a power forward, but now I'm a TE" school for having a huge body and great athleticism. He will definitely create some mismatches this year as there likely aren't many LBs that can cover him 25 yards down field and there definitely aren't any DBs that can match his size and strength.

OL: always the most important position on offense, and it has plenty of question marks. LT is the most important spot, however, and roadgrading Jake Long has been moved there from RT to guard Henne's blind side. Long is a beast and if he remains healthy is likely a lock for all conference with a chance at being all american. The rest of the line is filled with question marks, however. I don't feel qualified to speak on the relative strengths/weaknesses of guys like Kolodziej or Mooseman, but they all have something to prove. Hopefully we get some nice surprises on the OL this year.

And now we have the defense...

DL: Wow. That's all I can say. Easily the most talented DL to call Michigan Stadium home since 1996 or 1997. LaMarr Woodley and Alan Branch are both dominant players. Woodley is a phenomenal edge rusher that makes plays all over the field. Branch is a massive man with quick feet and good hands that can play inside or out. After that, there are lots of other solid players. Tim Jamison is an undersized speed rusher in the mold of Kabeer Gbaja Biamila. He won't be holding up against power rushing plays, but he can knife past a lot of blockers to make plays in the backfield. Terrance Taylor is a former powerlifting state champ that should be a formidable NT/DT.

LB: David Harris was a very pleasant surprise last year at MLB as he showed a great knack for beating blocks and making tackles. Prescott Burgess and Chris Graham and Shawn Crable have excellent ability, but each has been up and down (some more than others). Crable figures to have a big impact this year if Ron English goes with the attacking style that fans are hoping for. He's freakishly big and quick and can be very difficult to block. Brandon Graham is a stud true freshman that might push for PT but I think it will be hard for him to see much and he might redshirt. John Thompson and Brandon Logan will also be in the mix.

DB: Well, the safety spot is loaded with guys with starting experience and the CB position isn't. Leon Hall is a lock at one corner and one of the better CBs in the country. He's got decent size, good speed, and a knack for making plays. The other spot? Toss up between speedster Morgan Trent, bigger (but slower) Charles Stewart, and supremely talented by short on experience Johnny Sears. I'm hoping Sears wins the spot because that would likely mean he is starting to live up to his talent. At safety? Take your pick from guys like Ryan Mundy, Willis Barringer, Brandent Engelmon, and Brandon Harrison. I think Mundy and Harrison might be the 2 most talented but they are both free safeties. Heck, don't forget about true soph Jamar Adams who could put himself in the mix at SS.

What do I expect this year? Last year was absolutely brutal going 7-5 with horrible losses to OSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. All woulda/coulda/shoulda been wins. Then again, we coulda/woulda/shoulda lost to Iowa and Penn State. This year, I expect a much more dominant Michigan team. Every game will not be a nail biter. Part of this will be due to a more consistent offense (mostly due to a great rushing attack) and part of it will be due to more of a playmaking defense instead of the "sit back and watch the other team march down the field" gameplan of Jim Hermann. I'll be disappointed with anything less than 10 wins next year (including bowl game) and I still consider us co-favs in the Big Ten along with Ohio State. The schedule doesn't do us any favors with roadies at South Bend, Happy Valley, and Columbus, but I really don't care. I expect this team to display a little bit of attitude and swagger next year on the field.