Saturday, November 04, 2006

Surreal Life Mit Michael

Stream of Consciousness to follow...

It's 10:45 p.m. in Salt Lake City. I'm on a layover on my way back from Oakland after a week of depositions. I dominated a Cajun burrito at OAK (in support of LSU, whom I believe to be hours away from their first big win of the year) and then two beers before last call at Dick Clark's American Bandstand here in SLC. You can imagine the epic that is my breath right now. G-d help the person in 26B tonight. I spent the time at the bar Blackberrying my wife and figuring out what songs I would play if my I-Pod was plugged into the speakers at the bar. This is surely a comment on modern life, although I'm not coherent enough to describe it, other than the fact that we all stay in our own little cocoons, even in public, and that Radiohead has written some good songs that apply to the situation.

I don't sleep well on planes and I'm on Pacific time right now, so I'm going to be very tired tomorrow. This will test both my merits as a father of an infant and my commitment to college football. The Michigan game won't be on, which will help. How is it, by the way, that I paid $120 at the start of the year to get extra games on GamePlan and I pay $5 every month to Comcast for the "Deluxe" sports package, but I don't get ESPNU and therefore, I'm going to miss the Michigan game. In the words of Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies, what do I pay you people for?

Speaking of the Deluxe sports package, I haven't had a chance to comment on Barca's current swoon, which I got to see up close and personal on Gol TV against Real Madrid. The conventional explanation is that they miss Samuel Eto'o and that Eidur Gudjonsson is a poor replacement, especially since he isn't a true striker. There is some merit to this, as he missed a couple really good chances against Real. Another explanation is that Ronaldinho is also slumping, which also has merit as he sucked against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, as well as at the Bernabeu. The third explanation is that they miss Henk Ten Cate, Rijkaard's lieutenant and technical brain. For those of you who don't know much about soccer, imagine Pete Carroll without Norm Chow, George O'Leary without Ralph Friedgen, or the Rolling Stones without Mick Taylor. Related to this explanation is my personal favorite, which is based solely on the Real match: they lack a defensive bite in the midfield. Real poured forward in the game, not unlike Chelsea in the second leg in 2005 at Stamford Bridge, and this was because Rijkaard played a midfield without Motta or Edmilson. (He could also play Marquez in the holding role with Puyol and Thuram behind them as central defenders.) Barca cannot play without a defensive midfielder. Anyway, the home match against Werder Bremen has become must-win.

I took the deposition of a damages expert for the defense today in a commercial litigation and it made me think of all of the sloppy arguments that are made in sports arguments on causation. On the other hand, it made me think that we would never be able to attribute anything to anything if the world was ruled by defense economic experts because there's always another factor that allegedly isn't being controlled for.

I caught the second half of the Louisville-West Virginia game last night. It was nice to see the WVU defense that we all expected to finally rear its head. The Mountaineers are a team with a good offensive concept and the right personnel to run it, but they don't have the athletes to compete on a top level (insert standard explanation that Georgia had their heads in their cooloos [transliterating Tony Montana there] in the first quarter of the Sugar Bowl) and that shows up on the defensive end. Teams with inferior talent can hide that shortcoming by coming up with inventive schemes. There is little way to hide a lack of talent on defense. Louisville has more talent than West Virginia, for which they can thank...that Michigan State coach who was fired this week. WVU can remedy this shortcoming because they have a good potential recruiting base in Western Pennsylvania and their success of the past couple years ought to bring in some people who can tackle and cover. As for the Cards, they have pretty good athletes and a terrific quarterback and coach. For a brief moment, I was scaring myself about the prospect of a Michigan-Louisville game because Michigan's secondary isn't outstanding, but then I considered what little chance the 'Ville would have at blocking Woodley & co. The Louisville game also reminded me, by the way, that a team's offensive performances in the weeks leading up to a game of the year can be highly deceiving, so now I've swung back to the side of thinking that Michigan has a great chance at the Horseshoe.

I've done nothing more than read the recaps for the Hawks' first two games this season, but the first game sounded extremely depressing. Shelden Williams did absolutely nothing, Speedy Claxton didn't have an assist, and the team looked on paper to be worse than they were last year. Tonight, they beat the Knicks, which doesn't exactly prove a lot, but it sounds like they won by running. Adding Williams to Pachulia ought to improve the team's defensive rebounding and they finally have a point guard who can lead the break. In other words, for one night, based solely on a game recap that I read on my Blackberry, I am holding out hope that Billy Knight has added the components that will allow the team to harness its athleticism and that Shelden and Speedy will make the team's primary players better. If that happens and Josh Smith makes the leap this year, then 35 wins are a legitimate possibility.

I can't believe I haven't even had a chance to blog about Mike Vick's renaissance. Leaving aside the dumbest thing I heard this week - Sean Salisbury opining that Vick will someday throw for 4,000 yards and run for 1,000, as if it's possible to combine those two other than in an offense scoring 50 points per game - this is an excellent development. That said, the Falcons have so far lost two games decisively and won just about every close game they've played. There's a market correction on the way.

Time to board the plane.


Anonymous said...

At least through the first two games, I do not see that Claxton is really that much of an upgrade over Tyronn Lue. Alas...

It would have been very interesting to see how this team started the season with a (re)juvenated Marvin, but I like the pieces we have in place in the frontcourt. Shelden and Zaza seem to compliment each other nicely.

I know it has only been two games but it is very nice to see the Hawks not start off a season 0-2 for the first time in what seems like at least 5+ years.

Anonymous said...

I am in awe at your prescience w/r/t the Falcons.

Anonymous said...

So much for the Falcons resurrection. I guess anyone who has cheered for the Falcons for the last 25 years saw that coming. Have we won 3 games in a row at any point in the last 5 years?

Looking at the box score it's easy to blame #7 for that one - but minus the interception (which did hurt bad) - he was just as sharp yesterday as he has been the last two weeks. I counted 5 dropped balls on 3rd Down (and several more on other downs), and we are talking right off the hands would have punctured their chests well thrown passes.

If they make those catches like we have been the last two weeks, Falcons win by a score, Vick completes good % and has 200 yards passing again.

Oh well, the elephant in the room the whole season has pretty much been the defense. With so much focus on the QB they almost seem to get a pass in the media. Without Abraham I would say they are probably one of the 5 worst in the league. Jason Webster is an absolute embarrasment to this franchise - and that is saying something with our history of stellar CB play. Kerney is invisible if no one else is getting pressure. Rod Coleman must be hurt because he has done nothing. The fact that Josh Mallard gets minutes really says something about our DL depth. Brooking has made some plays this years but he is out of position at MLB. WHEN Hartwell has played he has been just as bad as Webster. Our other LB's total about 420 lbs.

Milloy and Crocker have helped with the run defense but I'm not sure they make a big difference against the pass. Then again I'm not sure anyone can make a difference in the secondary playing with Webster.

HOW in hell do you consistently blitz 2 LB's and STILL have Webster playing a 15 yard cushion? Don't you think the QB will pick up on that and immediately throw a short bubble or slant in his direction????

Ok, just needed to get that off of my chest. And I didn't even go into the whole throw on every first down and then run for 1 yard on 2nd down play calling. My god. If 3rd and 8 on every series isn't a recipe for losing to a 1-6 team I don't know what is (unless of course you are playing against Jason Webster).