Midnight Maize 176

On the Detroit Free Press and Its Relationship with Michigan and Michigan State

It is a commonly held article of faith among Michigan fans that the Free Press is biased in favor of Michigan State and against Michigan. This belief is not without basis. When comparing their recent coverage of Michigan and Michigan State, the two teams have clearly been treated differently. In the Free Press investigation on Michigan's football practices, the Free Press showed a blatant disregard for anything resembling journalistic ethics and wrote a story that did not reflect reality. Here's a repost of what I've written elsewhere detailing my thoughts on the matter:

As a Michigan fan, my perspective of the issues surrounding the practice violations can be summed up thusly:

1. In August 2009, the Detroit Free Press released a story that stated the University of Michigan football team had flagrantly ignored daily and weekly limits on practice time and the use of quality control assistants. The story further went on to claim that some of these limits had been exceeded by a factor of 2 and then some.

2. Subsequent investigation of the allegations in the NCAA and the University of Michigan yielded a number of violations. The substance of the violations can be summed up thusly:
a) Michigan’s biggest offense was the illegal use of Quality Control staff in roles that constituted coaching activities. This was the fault of a failure by the compliance staff to provide the football coaching staff with guidelines (as backed up by documentation) and the coaching staff failing to clarify what was and was not legal with the compliance staff. As such, numerous people are at fault here, one of whom is Rich Rodriguez. However, in defense of Rodriguez, the rules regarding QC staff are rather vague and a number of rules violations committed by the QC staff would no longer be violations today, as the NCAA changed these rules after the investigation, realizing that they were dumb.
b) There were very minor practice overages. The most serious overage was a number of 1-hour overages during the offseason, in which voluntary hours with strength and conditioning staff are limited. During football season, there were a number of practices that exceeded the 4-hour limit by 20 minutes. This excess occurred because the football coaches were present while the players stretched. The coaches were unaware that stretching constituted a countable practice time. Incidentally, stretching is considered voluntary unless observed by a football coach.
c) There were a few other isolated violations. The only serious one was a graduate assistant lying to the NCAA. He was fired before the allegations were released.
d) The violations combined to result in a failure to monitor charge by the NCAA.

3. It is our position that the violations are really not that serious. Contrary to the Free Press report, which stated that Michigan had consistently and egregiously violated practice limits, Michigan only had a few minor overages. More serious is the QC staff problem, but to be fair, the NCAA has been changing and clarifying those rules because they realized that they were neither well-defined nor logical.

4. We also believe, based on comments from NCAA football players throughout the country, including some at Ohio State, that these violations would turn up at any other school. While this is not a defense, it is a reason that we get annoyed when fans of other schools either gloat or are smug about them with regards to us.

5. As the violations that actually occurred do not even begin to approach what was initially reported by the Free Press, one of the lead reporters on the Free Press had written numerous anti-Rodriguez opinion articles, the coverage by the Free Press showed tremendous bias, and the Free Press reporters displayed a disregard for journalistic ethics while putting together the report, I consider the report to be a hit job on both Rodriguez and the university.

Also notable is that when the Free Press posted its series of articles on the investigation, they also posted a brief article entitled, "MSU plays by the rules, say ex-players". In this article the Free Press decided that after investigating Michigan over a significant period of time and writing about Rodriguez's 'outrageous' practice program, doing due diligence in checking how widespread Rodriguez's methods were meant asking a couple ex-players from MSU whether they broke practice rules at school. They, obviously, said no.

Michigan fans also like to note that the Free Press was very soft on MSU* when 15 MSU football players were involved in a fight at a dorm where, by all accounts, they came in to the dorm and just started beating people up. This complaint also holds merit, considering that the Free Press only wrote a few articles on the topic, including this gem that they (presumedly) removed from their site, which was the version of events according to the parents of the guilty players and is (presumedly) inaccurate, considering the criminal charges filed.

These, and other complaints are, in my opinion, reasonable. As a result, many Michigan fans have concluded that the Freep sports section is maliciously anti-Michigan and would like nothing better than to crush the Michigan football program. This sentiment is why people do not take Michigan fans seriously when complaining of media bias. And frankly, people shouldn't take Michigan fans seriously when they express that sentiment, because it is ridiculous that a nationally respected sports section would risk losing all of its credibility in order to take down a local football program.

Having shown major examples of imbalanced coverage with regards to the two programs, I think it is reasonable to say that in the last year or two, the Free Press has been favorable to Michigan State over Michigan. As such, it seems reasonable to ask why the Freep would do this, especially when you consider that the Michigan fanbase is far larger than the Michigan State fanbase and thus, on the face of things, attacking Michigan has the potential to hurt viewership than attacking Michigan State.

My thoughts on this matter are by no means correct. However, they do seem to make sense when you assume that a) the Free Press makes editorial decisions that are designed to ensure that its readership is as high as possible and b) the reason that the Free Press appears to be crossing more ethical lines than they have in the past (excepting Mitch Albom, obvs.) is that they are in a dire financial situation and are therefore willing to sacrifice a degree of their journalistic integrity in order to get more readers. The first assumption is clearly logical and the second assumption is derived from the recent practices of their sports section. Therefore, based these assumptions, I believe that the Free Press has concluded that by covering MSU football in a positive manner and by producing major investigations into alleged improprieties by the Michigan football team, they will get more readers. And I think that this conclusion is correct.

There are multiple reasons I believe that the Free Press's coverage of Michigan and Michigan State allows for getting the largest number of readers possible. First of all, a large portion of the Michigan fanbase has always taken pride in the relatively spotless reputation that the Michigan football program had acquired off the field by never having committed a major violation. This, combined with the large level of interest in Michigan nationally, meant that accusing Michigan of committing a major violation was sure to attract a large number of readers. When compounded with Rodriguez's lack of popularity as a coach, it seems reasonable to conclude that a lot of Michigan fans were unlikely to cease reading the Free Press sports section as a backlash to their investigation because they dislike Rodriguez and that that any potential backlash was worth the huge numbers of readers that would be interested in their story.

Meanwhile, covering Michigan State in a negative light has almost no benefit to the Free Press. Michigan State football is not feared or respected that much nationally because they are not a major power. They are a regional power, to be sure, but they have no real national pull. As such, writing a large series of negative articles on Michigan State's off-the-field issues, such as the 15 players in the Rather Hall incident or Glenn Winston rejoining the football team immediately after being released from prison is not likely to produce an influx of new readers. Meanwhile, Mark Dantonio remains a very popular coach at Michigan State by virtue of beating Michigan and not being John L. Smith and Michigan State fans are generally content with the current state of their football program. As such, writing a long string of negative articles on the Michigan State football program would result in backlash from their fanbase and alienate the fans of a local team for little gain. Therefore, it makes sense to provide positive coverage on Michigan State football.

My overall conclusion is that the impetus for the Free Press' recent imbalanced coverage that has favored Michigan State over Michigan is economic and not heavily determined by any innate biases held by the editors or reporters at the Free Press. While this is still rather unethical and not really comforting to Michigan fans at the moment, it should be noted that if the tables were turned and Rodriguez began winning and Dantonio started losing a lot, then the coverage would likely shift so that Michigan would receive more favorable coverage. Therefore, whining about the Free Press' anti-Michigan bias and developing a persecution-complex as a result is pointless and self-defeating. Instead, if you want to be taken seriously by fans of other programs when talking about the Free Press, I would advise sticking to the facts about the recent coverage of both programs by the newspaper and providing a more believable economic context as explanation.

*Compare the number of articles on a practice investigation of which the overages described ultimately amounted to the coaches being present while players stretched to the number of articles about an incident that saw 15 players involved in a fight.

[/end mildly arrogant take on the subject]

Midnight Maize 175

Midnight Maize 174

MidKnights of the Round Table 1


Special thanks to all the members of MM, you guys did an excellent job, this should be a fun segment.
1. What are your expectations for Michigan football this year?
Hulk:  My expectations for Michigan football this year is to improve. I think most people would be satisfied with the football season if we can see marked improvement ranging from such things as not giving up first downs on 3rd and 30 at a 75% clip, all the players seeming to know where to be at all times, and many less "oh shit" moments. I expect to get back to beating up on MACakes and lesser B10 schools. I expect we won't be blown out of games before the second half, as has happened many times in these past two years. I expect a bowl appearance at the very least, even if its the Little Caesars 5 dollar hot n ready pizza with a order of chicken fries and a cold big gulp bowl.

JC: Michigan needs to get back to doing that it does best. Beating the likes of Illinois, Purdue, Michigan State, and consistently being able to compete against Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State, and ultimately Ohio State. The offense needs to be able to grin and take time as well as score quickly. Defensively, the Wolverines need to stop the run. There is no getting around that. Limiting the big play will not only help the team's morale, but reduce the stress on the offense to score and win shootouts.

SCS100: I would expect Michigan to go at least .500 during the regular season, with a 7-6 or 8-5 record being the most likely depending on the bowl opponent. Many games this season are toss ups, and a few close wins/losses will ultimately define this season.

Seth9: Offense: The offense is an interesting situation this year. First of all, improvement on the line (assuming that Molk doesn’t disappear for the year again) and at QB seems virtually guaranteed, which makes the future look much brighter. With a supposedly much improved Denard and a stronger line, the offense should be much more versatile. We can also expect excellent play once again out of our slot receivers. On the other hand, I’m worried about production from our running backs and wideouts. We’re likely to see regression from the wideout position with Stonum replacing Matthews and Hemmingway’s injury history is worrisome. Meanwhile, while we have a relatively solid core of RBs, I don’t see Smith, Shaw, Cox, or anyone else on our roster that can replicate the production of a healthy Brandon Minor. That all said, the increased versatility of the offense and improvement from the QB position should lead to moderate improvement.
Defense: The defense is now going to start a redshirt freshman converted WSR at deep safety. Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren are gone. Even with fairly significant improvement from all returning players thanks to more than one year with a defensive coordinator, the pass defense is going to be bad.
Special Teams: We lost Zoltan Mesko. They are getting worse.
Overall Expectations: The presumed improvement from the QB position should lead to some mild improvement, although the pass defense could really sink us this year.

Dark Blue: I am an eternal optimist, so I’m going to go way out on that stupid limb and say 9 wins this year. The offense is going to be a force to be reckoned with. Look out Big Ten because its going to be ugly as fuck for you.

Shredder: My exceptions are always high. I think that's in anyone's nature when you are a die hard. But saying that I see the low being six wins and the high being eight wins. The end of the schedule is pretty brutal and saying we get through the first four with out any issues could be tough as well. Six wouldn't make me happy but for some odd reason seven would. Not sure what the one more game does for me. Eight would have running around with my pants off. I rather see a up and down year as appose to the 2009 up up down down down... oh god down year that is was.
I expect a very good Offense, not great but very good and hoping for a average defense. If the Defense is even worse than 09 then Rich Rod maybe out of time and luck. Lets hope some fresh new faces on the D can turn the team around.

2. Who do you anticipate having a breakout season, on both offense and defense?

Hulk:  I'll give you 2 names on offense that I think will have outstanding years. Lewan and Shaw.
People seem to be really down on Shaw because he hasn't been able to put it together and have a breakout year. I think it's a little too soon to rule Shaw out of being a homerun back that this offense needs. Last year, Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor were both Seniors that brought more to the table than Shaw. There's no shame in being a backup to a good back like Minor. Many have stated that they think Shaw lacks the vision to be able to find the holes in this offense. The beautiful thing about this offense is once the QB decides who is taking the ball, it is a one cut and get up the field offense. There's not much dancing around and if Shaw hits a crease, there's not too many defenders that have the speed to keep Shaw out of the endzone.
Then there's Lewan. The last few years we have seen the rock bottom of OL play. On several plays, I swear we would have been better not trying to block at all. That should all come to stop this year. Lewan is good. And when I mean good, I mean he has the potential to be WOAH good. Just take one look at Lewan and tell me he's not primed to anchor that side of the line for 4 years. Excellent size, long arms, athletic build, quick feet. He has a nasty streak and should have no problem getting to the 2nd level. He has been praised for his quick feet and excellent technique. He should be able to slide step to maintain leverage and use his long arms to negate counter moves. He has a chance to go down in history as one of the greatest LT's to ever strap on a Winged helmet.
I guess you want my breakout player on defense as well. I believe that JT Floyd should be a pretty good player come this fall. Last year Floyd looked slow, flat footed and out of place most of the time. WOTS is JT put in a ton of time to prepare himself to lock up the CB spot opposite Woolfolk. CB is a amazing position when you take time to study it. While it helps to have the closing speed if you do get beat, it isn't something that is necessary. CB's that are very techniquely advanced when it comes to footwoork, hand position, and a general feel for the game have a good chance to diagnose what the WR is trying to do and position himself in the best place to defend it. It also helps that we will probably see alot of cover 3 and Floyd might get a chance to play bump this year, where he can use his physicality to dictate where the reliever releases to.

JC: Craig Roh will reach double-digit sacks as the team's only legitimate pass-rushing threat. On offense, Roy Rountree will catch 50+ passes and be named to one of the All-Big Ten teams.

SCS100: I anticipate breakout on offense, if nothing else for the fact that the offense will be a lot less turnover prone. I don’t anticipate seeing Denard or Tate making as many poor decisions when it comes to arm punts or fumbles via the way the ball has been held.

Seth9: Offense: Taylor Lewan may not be the second coming of Jake Long, but by all accounts he looks to be the frontrunner for the LT spot and a strong offensive lineman next year.
Defense: Will Campbell is my selection here, as he’ll be given every chance to start at nose tackle so that Mike Martin can shift out to defensive end and the most talent possible on the line. He also is definitely the most hyped guy on the defensive side of the ball not to have established himself yet.

Dark Blue: I’m thinking that Denard will have the breakout year on offense. We got a small taste of what he could do during the spring game, and I think he builds on that and ends the year as an All Big Ten performer. On Defense, I’m going to say Obi Ezeh has an All American caliber year. Its time for Obi to step it up and be the player we all think he’s capable of being.

Shredder: On offense it has to be one of the two. Either a QB or a RB. If one doesn't break out than I think the season will be a bust and Rich Rod will be out. I don't even care who at this point. Someone just needs to step up. It's no secret I like Michael Shaw and I think Mike Cox seems good if he can get his head straight. Those would be my two guess for RBs and for QBs.... Just flip a coin because I am as clueless as the rest of Michigan nation on who will emerge.
On Defense I see Roh to continue to get better and become a decent leader. Roh may have a "meh" year in the stats area but his leadership will help this team more than his play on the field. I expect a true blow up year his JR year. It couldn't hurt if Will Campbell or someone at safety stepped up as well.

3. Toughest opponent? Opponent that we can't overlook?

Hulk: Toughest opponent should be Ohio State. Once again, Ohio State adds alot of good players in this past recruiting class to a very talented, experienced team. It obviously all starts with Pryor. He can show up on one day and look like Vince Young reincarnate, and the next look like he should be playing pee wee football. Ohio State's season will depend on how consistent Pryor can be. Pryor, Herron, and Saine all return to a pretty potent rushing attack. Devier Posey and Dane Sansenbacher are good targets. Most of their offensive line is back, which should help protect Pryor. Then there is OSU's defense. The only big loss is Kurt Coleman. They return almost everyone from the number 1 overall defense in the B10 last year. If they can get past Miami (YTM) the schedule looks good for them until the final stretch where they play PSU, Iowa, and Michigan.
I also think Iowa deserves a mention here.
Teams we shouldn't overlook. Every single last stanking one of them. I don't think that it should be a problem because I believe we are significantly better than the teams below us and you can't overlook the teams that should be better than you.
I guess I'll throw out a caution sign for the UConn game even though I don't believe it will be that close. First game of the season, all the BS of the offseason, having a chance to redeem yourselves. Shouldn't be a problem but UConn is probably the biggest unknown when it comes to how good or bad they are.

JC: Ohio State will probably be the best team Michigan faces. They are extremely talented all over the field and will be well-coached. But don't overlook Wisconsin. They return 10 starters from the Big 10's best offense and will be strong on both sides of the ball.

SCS100: Toughest opponent is Ohio State. We win = Cleveland getting LeBron back. Opponent that should not be overlooked is UCONN. A fast start to this season is key, and thinking that UCONN is another Big East team that Rich Rod will flatten could prove fatal (think back to 2007 and complacency).

Seth9: Toughest Opponent: Ohio State. This needs no explanation.
Opponent not to overlook: Indiana. First of all, we are playing them on the road and they are going to be exceptionally motivated after narrowly losing to us last year. Secondly, they return eight starters on offense, including two talented receivers in Tandon Doss and Damion Belcher. Their defense looks to be poor this year, but between a reasonably strong passing attack and home-field advantage, they could win this game that looks to be a shootout.

Dark Blue: Toughest opponent with out any doubt is Ohio State, The Buckeyes are once again poised to make a Big Ten Championship run. I think that beating them is still probably a year away, but that is why they play the games, anything can happen. As far as opponents we can’t overlook, I would have to say Indiana. This was a team who stuck with us for 59 minutes last year, and they return their whole offense. This good easily be a trap game. Don’t overlook the Hoosiers.

Shredder:  Toughest is a toss up between OSU and UW. I can see UW trucking us with their monster line and human bull dozer John Clay. I can also see OSU and the shoe over whelming a young QB in Tate or Denard. At least those two games are back to back.... ugh.
We can't over look Indiana. We haven't been good on the road for many reasons and the pistol is a different offense that did give us fits last year. The Hoosiers are more than capable of beating us if we show up and don't take them serious. Seems like this team would after last years scare.

4. What can MM do to help U of M rid the world of demons in 2010?

Hulk:  We can only do what we have been doing since the start of the site. Provide a place for people to vent about almost anything, discuss almost anything (except Harry Potter or Boxxy) , and fraternize. We have a bunch of art and even make fun of Cindy Crosby alot. Baseball gets tempers flaring. We have people with football experience and knowledge, life experience help, and general wackiness. We are a bunch of Michigan fans that bleed Maize n' Blue through and through. We even have a resident Domer fan, even though we usually shun him.
MM  is a special site. We are like a beacon in the never-ending night. MM tries to stay objective and fair, while being loyal to the university that we love.

JC: I don't know if any of us are 6"2, 220+ lbs or so and can play linebacker like Lamarr Woodley or Davis Harris, but that would sure help

SCS100:  Not post Tater’s bullshit. In all seriousness, just post rational thoughts, and don’t go after sensationalist material. And if said material appears elsewhere and needs to be countered, do it thoughtfully.

Seth9: Engage in non-vegetarian practices or make MS Paints

Dark Blue:  At MM we have a duty to keep the MGoIdiot in line. That is what we can do for U of M. Idiots beware.

Shredder: Hunt them with special gear, capture them and sell them to the highest bidder to help pay for a better CBOX.

5. What can we do to help save the Melmets? If you don't know what a melmet is refer to MM 171, towards the end of it.

Hulk: I think we can save the melmets by not having TLP drunk typing at LBs or DB not running around like a tard every time someone makes a dumb mistype.

Seth9: The Melmets are doomed. There is nothing to be done

Dark Blue: To help save the MELMET, we must convince Seth9 to post more, every time Seth posts something a MELMET gets its wings. To further save the endangered MELMETS Michigan must score more and win more because every time The Victors is played a MELMET is birthed.

Shredder: If we rid the world of helmets than teams will be forced to buy melmets... Which have been proven to be safer.

6. How many trips are you playing on making to Michigan Dtadium this year?

Hulk: Oh how I would love to make it to every home game. Alas, I now work 3rds and overtime is a given on this job. Its so complicated I actually have to plan which Saturdays I get off. Damn Commies making people work on weekends. I know I will make it to at least one and am hoping for 2. I'm looking at buying UConn tickets and will start looking for MSU tickets shortly ( /winkwink CMR)

JC: Hopefully a few games. I'll probably be at the Ohio State game at worse, but that will be in the cesspool that is Columbus Ohio.

SCS100: Student tickets pay off

Seth9: Eight—Seven football, one hockey game.

Dark Blue: Only 2 to MSU and Wisky.

Shredder: I dunno, thought about skipping a game this year and pooling my money for ND 2011 but... I always crush under the pressure and the Dtadium calls me from Grand Rapid and I show up. Maybe catch a crappy cheap game.

7. How many wins?

Hulk: I think we will go 7-5 this year. I think we should be good enough to win 8-9 games this year, but I just don't trust the defense or youth to not lose a game that we should win.

JC: 7 wins and a bowl victory.

 SCS100: 7 Regular season victories, plus bowl game win.

Seth9: Seven—I’m predicting wins over Connecticut, UMass, Bowling Green, Indiana, MSU, Illinois, and Purdue. I give us a decent chance of beating Notre Dame, Iowa, and Penn State (thanks to their QB issues) too, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we lost some games we shouldn’t too.

Dark Blue: I’m going to be the most optimistic here and say 9 wins, whether that is 8 regular season wins and a bowl win, or 9 regular season wins and a bowl loss I have yet to decide.

Shredder: Seven. I will go right in the middle of my high and low. Anything lower will be a Episode III Darth Vader: NoOOOOOOOOooooooooooOOOoooooo moment and anything higher will be a Ewok episode VI party moment full of Storm troopers melmets being used as musical drums.

8. Finally Is Rich Rodriguez finished?

Hulk: I just checked facebook and indeed, RR just finished his PBJ sandwhich with the crust cutoff. I'll check back later and let you know if he finishes anything else.

JC: Hell no.

SCS100: No. Anything higher than 7-6 and he stays

Seth9: Since I’m betting on seven wins, no. A bowl bid and winning season should be enough to keep his job.

Dark Blue: As long as he wins 7 games he’ll be back in 2011.

Shredder: My crystal ball says... No. A good solid seven wins with a nice bowl showing saves him. But is that just the die hard in me wanting that to happen? It's hard to tell the two apart these days.

Midnight Maize 172

2010 Football Highlights

Ok, so now that tickets have arrived, here is a brief overview of what the highlights are for the season:

Everyone knows the schedule by now, so there's no point in reviewing that. The one item of note from the season is that there is only one Maize Out and it is for the Michigan State game.

As for the Big Chill, as CMR has noted, the Children of Yost have gotten screwed and put into section 33, which is one of the worst spots possible (endzone, nowhere near distracting enough for State players). Congrats Michigan AD, you completely dropped the ball on this one. Now figure out a way to fix it before you get a massive flood of emails complaining about this. /end rant

Midnight Maize 171

Matt Garza Teams Up With Ed Hickox to Throw No Hitter

In Major League Baseball, the official strikezone consists of pitches that are above the batter's knees, below the batter's shoulders, and over the plate. This zone is generally more constricted in reality, as umpires rarely call the "high strike", or a pitch between the shoulders and the chest. Some umpires have even more constricted strikezones, while others have their own very interesting quirks.

Ed Hickox has a very interesting strikezone. This zone tends to change throughout the game depending on the situation and allows pitches that are well off the outside corner to be called strikes. And as demonstrated tonight, his zone also widens when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter.

In all fairness, Hickox did not demonstrate any major bias. He had a big zone to start the game and while it expanded throughout the game, it did not favor one pitcher over the other. And Matt Garza did pitch a hell of a game. I'm just not about to give the same level of credit to Garza as I would to the other pitchers who threw no-hitters this year: Ubaldo Jimenez, Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay, Armando Galarraga (oh wait...), and Edwin Jackson.

On a cheerier note, Matt Joyce led his team to a 5-0 victory with a grand slam. Nice to see that he's doing alright since being traded...

Yeah, the rest of this season could be pretty long.

For those who don't pay attention to baseball, Matt Garza threw a no-hitter for Tampa Bay against the Tigers tonight, leading Tampa to a 5-0 victory and Joyce, a former Tiger, hit a grand slam.

NCAA 11 Michigan Dynasty Pics & Broken Dynasty!

Figured I share a few pictures from my offline Michigan dynasty. Oh and BTW a huge flaw has been found in the dynasty, buyer beware. When getting to season 4 or 5 the overall of the teams start nose dive causing game play to plummet(dumb player,dropped balls,bad blocking,missed FGs). It's due to the incoming freshmen's AWR rating being way to low and not progressing enough through out the years. EA needs to get a patch out for this ASAP otherwise this guy will never buy again and this time... I mean it. Whats the point of dynasty if I can only play 4 years? I play 10+ most the time. Here is a LINK to the issue

Road To Redemption: From Inside The Insider

The Road to Redemption is a long and winding road, with many snares and traps, looking to snag the unsuspecting and send them back to the West Virginia coal mines. The black lung disease is waiting for us, deep in these mines, we have no oxygen tanks, we have no air filters, all we have is the hope and perseverance to overcome the mess that has descended upon us.

Rich Rodriguez was a media darling when he descended on Ann Arbor. ESPN loved this guy, funny how things can change over the course of a couple terrible years. We, as fans of The University of Michigan, have witnessed just about everything you could witness the last two years. We have watched the MSM tear RR down, and leave the pieces scattered in the wake. We have seen our proud football institution get slammed from every angle. There has been NCAA violations, resulting from TOO MUCH STRETCHING. Way to go Dick Fraud, way to bring down the Greatest Tradition ever.

I kid obviously, anyone who knows anything about Dark Blue, knows that I’m all in for Michigan, no matter who the corch is. I want RR to succeed here. I want to watch the Zone Read option, torch the Buckeyes time and time again. I want to see this Florida kids, who have never played a game in temps under 50 degrees, Come out in shirtsleeves in the middle of November. I want to see Denard Robinson, as Pat White 2.0. I actually that was a lie, I think when its all said and done, we’ll think of Pat White, as DROB 1.0.

I’m going to be honest right here, all we have to do is WIN SOME FUCKING FOOTBALL GAMES. That’s it.  RR has continued to recruit well, bringing in his type of players from all over this great country. We witnessed, at times last year, an offense that is going to scare the shit out of defenses. This offense is going to be better this year. This could be one of the most potent offenses in Michigan history. Everyone returns, the offensive line is deeper, we hopefully will have a couple of running backs who won’t get injured when a feather lands on them the wrong way.

The Road to Redemption is a strange road, it is a road that nobody wants to have to travel down, but remember what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. With all of the shit U of M has endured the last two years, we should be strong motherfuckers.


Liveblog Schedule from Now Until August 26th

To clarify the now outdated liveblog schedule on the sidebar, I will attempt to set in stone the schedule for the remainder of the summer. The schedule is as follows:

Monday-Saturday @ 11:30 or so. Sundays will be off, unless someone else wants to start one. If I'm running late, or can't do one, I'll try and let everyone know via cbox, so that someone else can start it. Once August 26th comes, I head back to campus, and I don't know what will happen at that point. Hope this makes things a bit clearer.

Midnight Maize 170

Apologies to Seth, who posted something useful right before I made this. Read it first.

RIP 2010 Detroit Tigers Playoff Hopes

Magglio Ordonez has fractured his right ankle and will be out for 6-8 weeks, meaning that he'll return at some point in September. This is, in a nutshell, the end of the Tigers playoff hopes unless they manage to come up with a bat to fill the 3-spot in the lineup, which simply isn't going to happen, as the Tigers are already at a big disadvantage to Minnesota and Chicago with regards to their depth and schedule.

The only bright side here is that Ordonez's $15 million option will not be guaranteed as Ordonez will almost certainly fail to compile the necessary 135 starts or 540 plate appearances this season. As such, the Tigers still might re-sign him next season, but at a much reduced price that suits his age and injury history.

In other news, Carlos Guillen strained his right calf and is day-to-day. Also, the Tigers lost 3-2.

Lost: A Retrospective (Part 1)

This post will have little to do with sports, the University of Michigan, or anything normally discussed here. It will instead be solely dedicated to the primary topic of this incorrectly named liveblog. If you do not care to read about Lost, or you are in the process of watching Lost, then I recommend simply ignoring this and moving on. Of course, you would have done that anyway, so this entire paragraph is redundant...

Lost is one of the greatest science fiction television series ever made. There are many reasons for this. For one thing, few science fiction series, or any television series for that matter, features such a wide range of well-defined, interesting, likable, and realistic characters as Lost does. Another reason is that Lost featured excellent acting from the entire cast. A third is that Lost featured excellent cinematography. And then, of course, is Lost's highly complex and engaging plot and mythology.

It is this last element of Lost, namely its plot and mythology, that is highly fascinating to reflect upon. The reason the plot and mythology is so fascinating is that it managed to captivate our attention despite being ridiculous, gimmicky, and generally non-sensical. To those who like the show and disagree with this statement, I would suggest attempting to summarize the plot. I will not do so here, as it would be tedious and boring to write it out, and will instead rely on SportsCenter's imaginative summary to make my point:

To be fair, this SportsCenter clip is mainly designed to be amusing and isn't really a fair representation of the show. As such, I will go over one of the major storylines, namely the Swan, and explain why it is completely ridiculous, gimmicky, and non-sensical:

Very little about the Swan makes any sense whatsoever. The Swan was apparently built in 1979 by the Dharma Initiative to contain a huge pocket of electromagnetic energy that they had uncovered. This pocket of electromagnetic energy could have catastrophic effects for the rest of the world if unleashed. As such, they built a system by which they discharge a buildup of this energy (it presumably fills a capacitor) every 108 minutes. This capacitor is discharged by entering a code (4 8 15 16 23 42) into a computer, which then activates the system which discharges the energy. This system is built into a station called the Swan, which resembles a military bunker. The initial plan was to have two-man teams run the Swan, which worked until the Dharma Intiative was destroyed by the Others in an event known as the Purge. After this, Desmond Hume, who was stranded on the Island after being shipwrecked during a trip around the world, took over duties at the Hatch along with a member of the Dharma Initiative who survived the Purge, until he accidentally killed him (which, "coincidentally", led to the crash of Oceanic 815). Desmond is later relieved by the survivors of Oceanic 815, who take over the duties of running the computer. At the end of the second season, John Locke decides not to enter the code into the computer, causing a huge burst of electromagnetic energy to be released. Desmond then activates the failsafe system in the Swan, which destroys the station and disperses the electromagnetic energy for good.

Now, let us review why this is contrived and non-sensical:

1. Why would you ever design a manual system to do a regular task that is necessary to save the world? What if something happens that prevents the people in the station from entering the code? They could sleep through the alarm that activates when the code needs to be entered, or trip trying to get to the computer to enter the code, or any other number of things that could potentially happen when you have to repeat a task 12-13 times a day for 25+ years.

2. Even if you made a system that has to have a person activate it every 108 minutes, why would you use a code? It seems to me that putting in a code seems kind of pointless, because it's not like you want the method by which to save the world to be secret or complicated. You would almost certainly want it to be simple and intuitive.

3. Why would you only have one computer devoted to running this program that dispersed the electromagnetic energy? If that computer ever crashed, or was damaged, or anything, then the world could well end (incidentally, it was shot once, but thankfully repaired before the time limit was up). It seems incredibly stupid not to have some type of failsafe...

4. Oh wait, they do have a failsafe. The failsafe destroys the hatch and...permanently disperses the pocket of electromagnetic energy. That seems to be a great idea until you ask the obvious question of why on Earth they didn't just disperse the energy in the first place if they had the ability to do so. When you can simply press a button that saves the world by permanently stops the electromagnetic energy from destroying the world, why make a button that you have to press every 108 minutes for the rest of eternity. IT MAKES NO SENSE. It would be like... Actually, I cannot think of an analogy for how dumb this is.

There are quite a few more flaws with The Swan (such as the lack of a link to the outside world, why it was run by a private corporation, why nobody had checked on it in a significant number of years, etc.), but it is clearly a ridiculous storyline.

Now, a talented writer could come up with a series of contrived explanations to make this contrived plotline make sense. For instance, even though I am not a talented writer, I could easily come up with an explanation to problem number 1 by saying that the odd temporal anomalies on the island would wreak havoc with a fully automated system. Does this sound dumb and contrived? Yes. But the point is that there theoretically could be semi-decent explanations to the numerous issues with the plot.

The funny thing is that the complete lack of sense revolving around The Swan and numerous other plotlines (such as everything to do with The Light in Season Six) is that it is integral to the show. The reason for this stems from the theme of faith that is present throughout Lost. Throughout the plot of The Swan, there is an argument between the characters over whether it makes any sense to enter the code again and again and again because the whole setup makes no sense. True, they do notice that there is some mysterious force inside the station (the huge pocket of electromagnetic energy attracts metal), but that still doesn't really serve to detract from the utter senselessness of the situation. This leads numerous characters to disbelieve in the necessity of entering the code, and with the introduction of evidence that the whole thing might be a social experiment, John Locke, the man who believes more than anyone in the power of the Island, experiences a crisis of faith that ultimately leads him to not enter the code, thus causing the EM pocket to be released, thus forcing Desmond to activate the failsafe. The aftermath of this event leads to Locke renewing his faith in the Island.

And this gets into the truly fantastic thing about Lost, namely that we, as viewers, are also always experiencing Locke's trial in faith in the Island and its mysteries. As the plot of Lost got more and more outrageous, between The Swan, the Others and their implausible power in the rest of the world, the ability to move the Island, everything to do with variances in time, and of course, the entire sixth season, people steadily stopped watching the show. The reason most commonly cited is that the plot was getting too ridiculous and long-winded; i.e. the plot had gone overboard and viewers lost faith in the show. Viewers were forced to make leaps of faith throughout the show and accept that the forces on the Island had the capability to do things that transcended what we saw on the screen. And thanks to tremendous production and acting, it by and large worked. So even though anyone who discussed Lost with a non-fan sounded like a raving lunatic, those who watched the show through all six seasons inevitably accepted that the powers on the Island transcended the character's experiences and that the nonsensical plot made sense on another level.

Part 2 will be my interpretation of Lost and probably my last post on the matter.

The thrill of victory and agony of defeat

For many, these past few years have been a dark time and scary time. Everything we had come to know of Michigan football has been turned on its ear. We grew tired of the M standing for mediocrity. We grew tired of the solidarity of Fort Schembechler. We grew tired of zone stretch left until we either punted or scored. We needed a shake-up. Some new blood. We wanted a new Schembechler.

Sitting here after two years and looking back, alot has changed. Alot of embarrassing losses. Bad publicity. Fighting within the fan base and even in the athletic department. For the first time, Michigan has committed "major" violations.

We have heard it all from rivals who we used to routinely smash mercifully. We have heard it from fans that want to go back to the ways of old. We have heard it from former players, trashing the university that we love because the change was difficult.

It hasn't been easy. It hasn't been pretty.

We have all had time to sit back and reminisce about the last few years. The shocking upset by Toledo, the first ever loss to a MAC team. Getting pummeled by OSU. Losing to MSU. Struggling to even comprehend how bad the attrition had gutted our beloved Wolverines.

Then we remember the promise of 2009. We had the Saviors of the program in two young pups. One experienced beyond his years, and the other so raw, yet so breath-taking every time he touched the ball. We saw the transformation of Stevie Brown. We saw a high-motored freshman step in day 1 and start in Craig Roh. We saw the maturation and flexibility of Troy Woolfolk. We witnessed Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown go out week after week, trying to help this team, yet so physically broken that it was almost impossible. We also had the honor
and privilege of watching one of the greatest players to ever wear the Winged helmet in Brandon Graham. His leadership, will, and dedication to the program will live on far past his time in Ann Arbor.

2009 saw us back to thumping directional schools. Back to being a big game football team on that glorious afternoon vs. Notre Dame. Back to Hail to the Victors when our young QB led us back against ND and Indiana.

Then it happened. First road game on a big stage for a very young team. First game vs. a conference rival. A rival that would give up a spot in the Rose Bowl for a win against their arch-rival Michigan.

But even while MSU thoroughly dominated the game, we saw much from our young team that day. We saw a defense that bent but didn't totally break. We saw a offense that struggled to move the ball in a monsoon. We saw a explosive Daryll Stonum make a huge catch and run to get us back into the game. We saw a broken Tate Forcier muster all the strength in his body to put together a final drive to seal a overtime chance with a dart to a promising receiver named Roundtree.

Looking back, it probably wasn't fair to expect so much from such a young team. Most of these kids were sitting in the back of a high school class room not even a year ago, dreaming of strapping on those winged helmets, wearing those Maize and Blue jerseys proudly. We shouldn't have put so much pressure on kids that should have been thinking about what to wear to prom instead of checking off coverages. We should have seen that we were going to take our share of thumping's.

But here we are. In the eye of the tornado. The calm before the storm. Waiting eagerly for a chance to prove ourselves. A chance to redeem ourselves. A chance to return to beingthe most storied program in college football history.

Keep your head up everyone. It has been a tough few years, but better/fun times are just around the corner.

- The Hulk

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Road To Redemption: 2010 Secondary

When Senior Troy Woolfolk arrived on Campus a few years ago, he was known as famous U of M running back Butch Woolfolks son. Butch who was a major contributor in Bo’s first Rose Bowl win, admittedly steered his son towards U of M. Hoping to become another one of the famous father son combinations at Michigan, Troy always felt he was his fathers son, not his own man.

Well not anymore. Troy is set to lead a revamped secondary into the 2010 season, people now know him as Troy, not Butch’s son. I think that young Mr. Woolfolk can be one of the best corners in the Big Ten. He realizes he is the leader of the secondary. This is a unit that was burned repeatedly last year, for big plays. Troy knows its time to leave him mark on the great U of M tradition.

The secondary loses top cover corner Donnavan Warren, who left early for the NFL. Woolfolk and JT Floyd figure to be the starting corners. Floyd, who a lot of people with the time, thought was the most improved performer in the spring. I really have a lot of  confidence that this duo can be very good. Floyd is a strong physical kid who I feel is going to develop into a shutdown corner.

The Wolverine 2010 football preview issue, has Cam Gordon listed as the projected starting FS. Cam is a redshirt freshman with tons of athletic ability. No experience to speak of but I think Cam bodes well as the last line of defense for the Wolverines. Jordan Kovacs is projected to be the starter at the Bandit position while Thomas Gordon is the projected starter at the Spur position. I’m not much of an x’s and o’s guy but I believe that both of these positions are expected to not only help contain the run, but also be able to help out in pass coverage. We all know what Kovacs can do. The former walk on has been the target of a lot of hate from the MICHiverse. However this was a guy who was an All Freshman Big Ten performer and a Freshman All American, this dude is going to be a beast, as long as he doesn’t have to be relied on for deep coverage.

The secondary is a little bit thin, with a whole lot of youth coming in. I would expect true freshman Cullen Christian to be a contributor this year. This is a 4 star recruit who has all of the tools to be a shut-down corner. Tony Gibson still has Justin Turner listed at corner, for all the talk of moving Turner to saftey, this is what Gibson says:

With Justin, the bad rap he gets is he's too big and he can't move as well, but I think that's completely false. Gibson said, I think the biggest thing with him is he doesn't have to strain to cover ground because he's so smooth. He's a 6-2 kid that can run, and it doesn't look like he's full speed all the time, but if you watch the ground he covers he is. I get on him in film, but then you watch him and everywhere he goes he's closing on people. I have no second thoughts about him being a corner. He can be a corner, and a good one.

Hmmmm sounds like Turner may have a future at the cornerback position. Vlad Emilien is listed as the top reserve free safety, hopefully he can climb back from all of those knee injuries and become a factor in the 2010 secondary.

I think this unit is poised to be much improved this year. There is more depth, Jordan Kovacs won’t be wandering around at the deep safety position, things are looking up. I think if this unit is even a little bit competent this is a team that could win 8-9 games.

A side note in programming. Recently there has been some Ad Hominem attacks against certain contributors to the liveblogs.  This is completely unnecessary. MM is supposed to be the spot that any Michigan fan can come to and not be harassed.  It’s fine to joke around, we all do a lot of that but making fun of a posters family or ideals is not going to be tolerated. I will raise the MM banhammer. If you don’t like something someone says on a LB, either ignore it or respond, but do so in an intelligent manner. Don’t act like you’re 5.

Also for your enjoyment, more music I’m hoping will contribute to the 2010 Wolverines success.

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Road To Redemption: Greg Banks


The 2010 Football Preview issue of The Wolverine arrived on my doorstep yesterday morning. I intently spent the day reading the issue from cover to cover, hungry for the latest Michigan Wolverines football news. While reading I came across an article written by Michael Spath on projected starting DE Greg Banks. I read and I read, and the more I read the more my jaw dropped. A brief excerpt from the article:

Bank's story took it's most precipitous turn in middle school. With his parents out of work and unable to pay the rent, the family, which included a younger brother, constantly hopped around looking for boarding. Banks slept in cars, in abandoned homes and buildings, in seedy motels where the prostitution in adjacent rooms made for sleepless nights, and in homeless shelters where there was no guarantee the entire family could stay together. Even for a single night.

Holy shit, imagine how my jaw dropped, reading about a projected starter who, through no fault of his own, had overcome a mountain of bullshit to be a POSSIBLE major contributor to the Revamped Wolverines 2010 Defense.

Banks holds no ill will against his parents

They did everything, and anything, they could to make sure we at least had shoes and pants and a shirt so we could go to school. They did their very best to give their children a chance

Here is a guy who fits perfectly with what Corch Rodriguez is trying to accomplish here in the MICHiverse. The road has been a long and hard one, for both Rodriguez and Banks. Just imagine the joy that these two men will feel when Michigan comes out of the tunnel each week and proceeds to slaughter their opponents (not to say that the other 100+ people associated with the team wouldn’t feel joy). This is a scene I’m rooting for with my poor diseased little black heart.

Jordan Kovacs has been my favorite Wolverine since about the end of the Notre Dame game. I still love Kovacs with the same intensity that a Wolverine eating Buckeyes feels. However Greg Banks has made me realize that not all of these kids come from picture perfect backgrounds. And maybe we should on occasion cut them some slack, not everyone has traveled down a road this tough.

Also I’m dedicating this song as the 2010 theme for Michigan football.


NCAA 11 MM Review

Well I have finally spent some time with NCAA 11 over the weekend. I just beat MSU 24-0(Couisons is out for the season). I am about to up it to All-American since I seem to be killing people. I have downloaded the game to my X360 and I recommend that since the game does have a bit of a slow down or lag in the menus. The game looks amazing. NCAA finally doesn't get 2nd rate graphics. You can tell by the pictures how good this game looks. The new color system really adds some great deep colors and the jerseys look different at night which is really cool.


Started my UM dynasty after the rosters hit the net. I did need to do some work to the Michigan roster to make it right. The defense was a bit of a mess but I got everything straight. If you wanna DL my roster than download from R3Vb0t. I feel it's pretty good(yes Shaw is now the fastest RB).

Edit-One mistake I made was I put the wrong Gordon at safety so just make sure to put Cam in.

EA overhauled the whole dynasty layout and menu's. It feels a lot more streamlined and fluid. I have never been one to go look through all the stats to see where my guys stack up in national ranks but now I can without even going into the stats as there is now a window when you highlight "stats" that shows where players rank in different areas. Like Tate has 5 TD and is 173rd in the nation in TD passes. It shows the top 5 and than where your player ranks. It's nice since I don't have to go looking to see where he ranks. It's also nice that half tackles are counted now and sacks.

It still has all the same things like the Heisman leaders and all that. Formation subs are a welcomed return. It's been one of the many reasons I stopped buying the game the last few years. For Michigan it's a must since all the RBs bring something to the table. I use them all in different situations and packages. I spent a good amount of time just getting the formation subs right. The practice is also something I never used much but have used to become good at the option reads. I now feel like I could run RR offense with making the right choice in the option read(no I couldn't).


Recruiting is something I always liked but has become stale in the last few years. Players hanging up on you and there not being much to it other than going through the motions to get your ten 5 stars and twelve 4 stars to sign. It's been revamped and for the good. Now there is a difficulty level which helps a lot. I am no longer just getting one stud after another. When it's all said and done I will be lucky to land two 5 stars. I am guessing I might get one.

It is all a point system now. I can see how far ahead I am or how far behind I am. No more just guessing or being hung up on. It's great because I now know when not to waste time on a recruit anymore. When I am 400 points behind I just focus my time on new or other recruits. You can even take points away from other schools which is cool(negative recruiting YAY!). You even get bonus points for recruiting in your pipeline states which makes winning the states you have pipelines in even more important.

You now are given topics at random. Once I get the topic I can now pick and find out how important it is to the recruit,pitch my school on the topic,compare my school to other school and take away points,make a promise,change the topic(you only get to do this three times per recruit) and schedule a visit. You can also sway a recruit on a topic if they feel low about it.

The new system is just more fluid and doesn't seem like such a chore. I am sure at some point it could become a bit more of a chore but I really like the points thing. I get some dumb high out of seeing how many points I can add up and take away from other schools. It's almost like it's own game.

Game Play

The ESPN presentation is great and no more Lee Corso doing play by play is awesome. The commentary is still stale and needs to be redone but it's not awful anymore since Lee is gone. Seeing UM come out and hit the banner is great and helps on so many levels for me since I am not one to skip the pre-game or post game stuff. I wish there was a bit of a longer shot of the players hitting the banner but I can't complain much. The player motion looks great too. No more sliding around on the field. The players look like they are really making steps in the turf and feel as if they have more weight to them. Shaw feels a lot different than Cox.


A lot has changed with the 120 ways to win. The spread fills like the spread and so on. I am so into the option read or zone read. Its fun and works. It never used to work. It works great now.
I was a bit disappointed that UM didnt have a wild cat for Denard but you can still do this in a five wide spread. There are many new plays and the whole offense feels fresh and new.

The blocking is a huge reason for this. Springing holes have never looked this good or felt this sweet. The WR even block... I know I was shocked when I saw it since they never did in any of the previous games. I have gotten in the open and Odoms made one final block for me to run it into the endzone with Shaw. It was magical. The running game is a lot of fun. It's my whole game. I have had no issues fumbling either. Some have reported too many fumbles. I have not had this problem.

The passing is a lot harder. It seems like the corners and LBs mirror your WRs sometime. It can make it hard to hit for a deep pass but is a challenge. It might get a patch to fix some of this but it's not a killer by any means. You really just need to pass at the right time. No late passes anymore.


Not much has changed on this side of the ball. Running the 3-3-5 has been fun for blitzing. You can now hold B and switch to anyone on the field with the stick instead of cycling through everyone.

Getting sacks is a challenge but I have done well with RVB. The new "pro-tak" system is awesome. It's great seeing 3 and 4 guys tackle one player. Tackles don't look like canned animations anymore. They seems to have a lot of variety. The D is smart and will do it's job most the time. The safeties can no longer cover the whole field which is nice.

There isn't much to say about the defense. Not a lot of changes but I felt the offense was the side that needed the biggest help and it got that.

After the game is over it goes through a few highlights and pictures from the game which is neat.

Online Dynasty

A lot is the same with as the offline but they add dynasty wire which is neat. It uploads pictures and a story of your game to your leagues dynasty hub. You can edit these and make them funny or whatever you want. The recruiting online is nice and makes things faster and more efficient. I killed some time at work doing it and was fun to be able to just go home and play the game. It keeps my wife was wanting to kill me with my game time on the TV. You can't move up to another job online or leave the conference but those are the only draw backs. My friend,bro and I are doing a bottom feeders of the big east dynasty and I took USF. It should be fun since we are already taking jabs at each other with dynasty wire.


The game is great and headed in the right direction for once. I haven't bought it in two years. I feel sorry for people who bought 10. They just stole money from you. It was a repackage of 09. 11 feels fresh on offense and in the recruiting. The online dynasty wire is a nice touch and I didn't even bother with other modes since I couldn't care less about playing a football game with mascots and doing campus legend(which hasn't be touched or changed). It feels very diffrent from Madden which is great. The game isn't perfect but will keep you busy for months. The only glitch I ran into was when I returned a kickoff for a TD and than IU kicked off to me again... but it didn't happen again when I returned another kick in online play. My final MM score is...

MM Score 9.3

NCAA 11 Pictures

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A Catastrophe of Unprecedented Magnitude

Brandon Inge, greatest baseball player in the world, will miss the next 4-6 weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture to his left hand. Roland Emmerich has already agreed to make a movie based on the occurrence.

Rich Rodriguez and The Road to Redemption

Every day each one of us has the chance to redeem ourselves, for something we have done. Rich Rod gets this chance soon enough, to make up for God-awful 2008 and 2009 football seasons. The construction of this road has been going on for awhile, it started in 2008 with the signing of his first recruiting class, and continues to this day. The pieces are there its time to make this thing work. Can he do it? I myself think so, however I’m not Miss Cleo, I don’t have the gift of being a psychic.

However like I said the pieces are in place, if RR gets it done, he will get a loud standing ovation, from Dark Blue, along with several ridiculous posts, about how I called it. Although there is thousands of people that have called for his success, not all of them write for a well written blog. Don’t worry guys I will be your voice.
So what does Corch Rod have to do to be successful? Normally I’d use bullets here but you know what, its a time for starting over, and I’m going to do this in paragraph form. What’s the worse thing that can happen? You won’t read it, no big deal.

First of all Rodriguez has to do things the right away, THE LEADERS AND BEST way. This means no extra stretching time(really no shit?). I’m sure that all of the players know this, and doing the hard work the right way will be second nature, to these kids.

Secondly there needs to be offensive leadership. Michigan is poised to do this well, whether its Tate Forcier, David Molk, Steve Schilling, or someone else. This team is deep on offense, and some of these guys are going to have to step up and be a LEADER. I fully anticipate this team having a record setting offensive year, but this can’t be done without leadership.

Thirdly there cannot be anymore missed assignments on the defensive side of the ball. I don’t care if the top 3 playmakers on the ‘09 team are gone. If the 11 players on defense make the plays they are supposed to, fill the gaps that they are supposed to, this will be a very good football team. There is senior leadership in Ezeh, and Mouton, There is all kinds of talent. Execution, execution, execution, execution, execution …….. If this happens I have no worries about our defense.

Fourthly and lastly, what does RR have left to lose? This guy has taken cheap shots from every member of the MSM. He has had “real” Michigan Men beat him down. What else does he have to lose? He can go out there each and every week and let it all hang loose. Why not, if Michigan underperforms in 2010,  there probably won’t be a 2011 for Corch Rod. So Corch if you read this(lmao) go out there and let it fly.

Also CMR, is working on a project that is so fucking rad, I nearly had to pluck my eyes out of their sockets. When she is finished I will post it here. Also A Remy Zero Video just for fun. Cya on the Live Blogs. 

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Detroit Tigers Player-by-Player First Half Reviews: Position Players

This is the final post of a three part series evaluating the first half for the Detroit Tigers. Past posts covered the starters and relievers. This setup differs from previous posts, as we will cover player summaries for each individual player, then grades by position, then a grade and summary on the whole.

Before beginning, I'd like to discuss the statistics that will be used during these evaluations. To start with, two traditional statistics, batting average and RBIs, will be flatly ignored. Instead, statistics such as on-base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage (Slg), and on base plus slugging percentage (OPS; favored over wOBA for the sake of familiarity) will be used in conjunction with cumulative statistics such as homeruns, stolen bases, and strikeouts. Also, the primary fielding statistic used will be the Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), which discusses the runs that a fielder prevents or allows.

Another statistic used will be Wins Above Replacement (WAR), perhaps the best metric in baseball when discussing the skill of a player. For the uninitiated, Wins Above Replacement uses a number of hitting and fielding statistics, adjusts them based on the player's position and a couple other factors, and then produces a result that states how many wins a player is worth over the average bench player. For a starter in the Majors, the median is around 1.5. It should be noted, however, that WAR is a stat that is still rather imperfect, because it overly relies on fielding statistics, which are, in my opinion, good at differentiating between players on a relative basis, but are not good at giving absolute values from which to evaluate players. The result of these issues leads to odd flukes, such as Brandon Inge's 2006 season being rated as equal to Cabrera's season this year.

Note: WAR was not used for pitching because I feel it has several issues including number of datapoints (for relievers), its reliance on FIP (which I don't particularly like), and the park factor (a terrible stat in my opinion), which plays a bigger role in pitching WAR than hitting WAR.

Austin Jackson
Grade: B
WAR: 2.3
OPS: .757
UZR: 5.2 (Runs prevented as compared to a replacement player)

For a rookie, Austin Jackson has been phenomenal. His strengths thus far have been his ability to get on base (.354 OBP), as well as his speed (he has a team high 14 SB) which has been particularly useful when it comes to covering the Comerica Park's spacious outfield. On the other hand, he's had several deficiencies, including a lack of power (.403 Slg) and a propensity to strikeout (88 K in 313 AB). Furthermore, he has shown issues with judging balls off the wall, which has resulted in extra bases. Finally, he has gotten lucky offensively, sporting a .415 BABIP without hitting for power, suggesting that he will regress in the second half. So while Jackson has been great for a rookie, there is definite room for improvement.

Miguel Cabrera
Grade: A
WAR: 3.7
OPS: 1.074
UZR: -4.9

Cabrera has without a doubt been the best player on the Tigers this year. By pretty much every metric, he has been the best offensive player in the Majors this year, and he has a real shot at winning the Triple Crown. He has displayed the ability to get on base consistently (.423 OBP) and hit for power (.651 Slg.). His only problem hitting-wise is his tendency to hit a fair number of ground balls. This is not a terrible thing, as he hits pretty much everything on the ground very hard, but ground balls in general are more likely to cause outs than fly balls, especially as Cabrera is the opposite of fast on the basepaths.

The biggest issue with Cabrera this season has been his fielding. He is tied for the Major League lead in errors this year with 9 and has the lowest fielding percentage of any first baseman. Statistically, he ranks among the worst in the Majors in terms of UZR (meaning that he is highly detrimental to the defense), although it should be noted that he has suffered from a terrible defensive infield (Brandon Inge and Ramon Santiago excluded), an issue that is very problematic for first-basemen. Still, he has definitely been well below average defensively, which prevents him from earning and A+.

Brandon Inge
Grade: B-
WAR: 1.5
OPS: .754
UZR: 1.1

Inge's ranking was originally listed as a B. This was unintentional. His ranking has now been corrected to a B-.

Brandon Inge is having an interesting season. First of all, he's actually hitting fairly well. While his power is down (.411 Slg., 6 HR), he is getting on base at a higher rate than any other time in his career (.342 OBP). It is also good to see that he is drawing walks (36, which is well above average for him) and more importantly, staying healthy. It should be noted that Inge had an absolutely atrocious May and has been largely above average every other month of the year.

On the flip side, Inge has not been great fielding-wise this year. While the drop in his fielding statistics has a lot to do with the rest of the infield not playing well, it should be noted that he is not making as many plays as he has in years past. On the other hand, it may be that he is eating more balls because the poor play of Cabrera this year has led him to decide to be more cautious, as Cabrera has not been reliable when it comes to reeling in throws that are off target.

Johnny Damon
Grade: B
WAR: 1.4
OPS: .784
UZR: 1.4

Damon has been decent, but nothing too special this year. He has been somewhat streaky at the plate, but has put out decent offensive numbers. In his limited time in the field, he has not been very good, but has not been a liability either. His strength thus far this year has definitely been the ability to get on base, posting a .362 OBP. At the same time, his power has dropped, as he has hit only 6 homeruns thus far this year. Overall, the Damon signing has been something of a success this year, as the Tigers now have a decent DH for the first time in awhile, but Damon has been a little disappointing offensively, as he has underperformed as compared to the last couple years he had with the Yankees.

Magglio Ordonez
Grade: A-
WAR: 2.6
OPS: .867
UZR: 3.6

Ordonez has been an all around solid player for the Tigers this year. He has been great at getting on base (.385 OBP), hit for decent power (.485 Slg., 11 HR) and, surprisingly, he is having a very good year in the field, as he is doing a good job of covering Right Field and his arm is noticeably improved over last year. The only issue he's had this year is a tendency to hit ground balls, which is not something you want to see out of your three hitter. Overall though, he is having a very good season, which is a pleasant surprise, considering his struggles last season.

Brennan Boesch
Grade: A
WAR: 2.7
OPS: .990
UZR: -0.7

For a player that nobody had heard of before the season, Boesch has been incredible. He has hit for average and power and is also beginning to walk of late, as pitchers are now much more wary of him than they were early in the season. If it weren't for Boesch, the Tigers would probably not be in playoff contention, as Boesch has not only been a tremendous hitter, he has also been able to protect Cabrera in the lineup. The only weakness in Boesch's game thus far has been some inconsistency in the field. Boesch is probably the key to the Tigers season, as the Tigers need him to continue to hit well in the second half if they are going to win the division.

Carlos Guillen
Grade: B-
WAR: 0.6
OPS: .788
UZR: -3.7

Guillen has thus far been a mixed bag. On one hand, Guillen has been a pretty good hitter, with a decent record of getting on base (.345) and hitting for power (.443). This, however, doesn't completely make up for his terrible fielding. First of all, in his early play in left field, his fielding was analogous to Jonas Mouton's pass coverage. Actually, I'm pretty sure it was worse. In fact, Jonas Mouton would do better at fielding left field than Guillen. And Guillen hasn't been a whole lot better at Second base, where he has exhibited pretty much no range when going for ground balls. Overall, Guillen's decent hitting and terrible fielding is good for a C+.

Ramon Santiago
Grade: C+
WAR: 1.4
OPS: .674
UZR: 6.8

Santiago has basically been the opposite of Guillen this year. He has been below average from the plate and a terrific fielder. He has been decent at getting on base (.343 OBP) but has hit for no power (.332 Slg.). Meanwhile, his fielding has been very good, despite his 6 errors, as he has shown tremendous range at the shortstop position, which has partially compensated for Guillen's total lack of range. While his hitting has been poor, Santiago has done very well in his role, saving the Tigers' infield from being a disaster and getting on base.

Gerald Laird
Grade: E
WAR: -0.6
OPS: .524
UZR: -3.0

Laird has been completely and utterly awful this season. He has not gotten on base (.261 OBP) or hit for power (.263). His fielding has been rather poor as well, throwing out a mediocre 29.2% of base-stealers and a poor .991 fielding percentage. Being a black hole in a the lineup plus contributing nothing special in the field makes for a degree of worthlessness.

Alex Avila
Grade: C-
WAR: 0.6
OPS: .644
UZR: 1.0

The fact that Avila is not the regular starting catcher is mind-boggling. While he has been poor at the plate (.304 OBP, .340 Slg.), he has been excellent when it comes to throwing out base-stealers throwing out 12 of 29 (41.4%). He has not been good by any means, but he has not been nearly as terrible as Laird.

Ryan Raburn
Grade: D
WAR: -0.1
OPS: .637
UZR: -0.2

Raburn has been a below-average replacement player. He has not hit for average or power, or fielded particularly well. His only saving grace is his versatility, as he can play pretty much every position on the field (except catcher). Still, he has not performed nearly as well as he has in years previous, which is unfortunate, but cause for hope that he will turn it around in the second half.

Don Kelly
Grade: D+
WAR: 0.3
OPS: .529
UZR: 7.1

Don Kelly is a terrible batter that doesn't hit or walk. This is a major issue. On the other hand, Kelly has shown that he, like Raburn, is a versatile fielder. Furthermore, he, unlike Raburn, is a good defensive center fielder, which he gets credit for as he has needed to fill in for Austin Jackson on numerous occasions.

Scott Sizemore
Grade: E
WAR: -0.3
OPS: .586
UZR: -2.0

In his first stint in the Majors, Sizemore was awful at the plate (.298 OBP, .289 Slg.) and in the field (6 errors, .954 fielding pct.) and was subsequently sent down. The preliminary verdict on Sizemore is that he really needed more time in the Minors. Hopefully he'll be better next time he's called up.

Adam Everett
Grade: E
WAR: -0.4
OPS: .468
UZR: 0.3

Everett is the only Tigers' position player to play worse than Gerald Laird. I'm not going to bother going into the particulars; they're too depressing.

Danny Worth
Grade: C
WAR: 0.3
OPS: .672
UZR: 0.7

The verdict is still out on Worth. What we do know is that he's a decent fielding middle infielder who does not hit for a lot of power. He seems to be very similar to Ramon Santiago. The biggest concern with Worth is that he has not walked very much, accruing only 3 in 77 plate appearances, leading to a subpar .304 OBP.

Casper Wells
Grade: N/A

Casper Wells had a very brief stay on the Tigers, playing in only 4 games. This was not long enough to evaluate his performance, but I will say that my initial impression was favorable mainly because he is a) a decent fielder, b) fast, and c) he ran hard down to first every at-bat. But, as I say, there's not much to go on.

Grade: D

The Tigers are platooning Gerald Laird, who cannot hit and isn't playing particularly well defensively this season, and Alex Avila, who hits only slightly better than Laird and is very good defensively. For some reason, Laird has gotten more playing time.

First Base
Grade: A

Miguel Cabrera has been excellent as the Tigers first baseman.

Second Base
Grade: C

Guillen, Worth, Santiago, and Sizemore have been decidedly average. Guillen can't field, Worth and Santiago aren't particularly good at hitting, and Sizemore was awful. As Raburn can also play second, at least there's no lack of replacements here.

Grade: C-

Santiago, Worth, and Everett have played here this year. At least Everett's gone, but this position could definitely use an upgrade.

Third Base
Grade: A+

I like Brandon Inge. In reality, this should be a B-, as Inge has played almost every game.

Grade: A+

The Tigers have perhaps the best outfield in the Majors, with Jackson, Boesch, and Ordonez starting and Damon as a serviceable replacement.

Designated Hitter
Grade: B

Johnny Damon has basically locked down the DH spot. When he's out of the lineup, the Tigers can sub in Carlos Guillen (and by extension, get him off the field).

Grade: B-

The Tigers would have the best lineup in baseball if catchers didn't bat. That said, the offense is definitely one of the strengths of this team. In particular, the 3-4-5 hitters on the Tigers, Ordonez, Cabrera, and Boesch, are absolutely lethal. Furthermore, the Tigers are sixth in the Majors in OPS, which is emblematic of how the lineup is definitely a strength on this team. Unfortunately, the Tigers have not been particularly efficient, scoring only 401 runs, good for tying for 16th in the Majors. Furthermore, there are clear holes at shortstop and catcher that the Tigers probably won't be able to resolve via trades. Defensively, the Tigers have been awful, producing an abysmal .981 fielding percentage. This is a major issue when you consider that the starting pitching is not particularly great either and needs all the help it can get.

Overall, the Tigers position players have done pretty well this year. Offensively, the team has been quite good if a little inconsistent. While the defense has been bad, it has, at least, been improving, as Damon and Guillen are out of the outfield and Sizemore is no longer playing. That said, the position players absolutely must play better and more consistently in the second half if the Tigers are going to win the division, as the Tigers have the most difficult schedule of the teams competing in the Central.

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