Friday, October 19, 2012

Football Previews Michigan/Michigan State

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By Doctor

Hi, it’s Football, remember me? Yes, that’s right, America’s favorite sport. Yeah, that guy. Now I know everyone has been extremely excited and distracted watching Baseball this past week as the Detroit Tigers kinda swept the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series to advance to the World Series for only the 11th time in franchise history. I get that. I just don’t want you to forget that I’m in mid-season form and hosting some pretty intense rivalry games this weekend that you might be interested in.

First off, Michigan (4-2, 2-0) hosts Michigan State (4-3, 1-2) in the Big House Saturday afternoon. That’s right, the big in-state rivalry game that pits friend against friend and often family against family. Yeah, it’s kinda a big deal and it happens tomorrow.

Now, I know that it isn’t as big of a game that many expected at the beginning of the season. The Wolverines started their season being humbled by Alabama beneath Jerry Jones Giant Ego Screen in Texas and also suffered a turn-over mess of a loss at Notre Dame, but hey the winningest college football program is undefeated in Big Ten Conference play (not as impressive a statement this year, but we gotta take what we can get) and is in the driving seat to win the Legends Division and play in the Big Ten Championship game for a chance to go to the Rose Bowl. Oh, and another thing, the Wolverines still have some kid nicknamed “Shoelace” who is pretty fast and might just be the most exciting player in college football. So I’ve got the Big House, the winged helmets, Denard Robinson, and the driver seat to a trip to Pasadena on the line tomorrow. Just a few reasons to tune in, no big deal.

Bleed Green instead? I’ll be the first to admit that the Spartans have been a bit of a disappointment this fall, not just to Michigan State fans, but to me personally as well. You see, the Spartans were my best hope this year for a Big Ten team to help fans located outside of the Great Lakes watershed to pay attention to the Big Ten beyond the shameful story still emerging out of State College and remind everyone that a running game and stingy defense can compete against the crazy uniforms of the Pacific Northwest and big d-line athletic freaks from the South.

So it is with all honesty that I say that few have been as disappointed by the Spartans as me. Hopes were so high after a monster performance by running back LeVeon Bell who can leap defenders in a single bound and carried his team to a Friday Night Lights victory over Boise State to start the season. Of course things went downhill fast for Sparty. It’s been embarrassing for me. There was the underwhelming performance at home against an Eastern Michigan team that had no business being in the game; then there was the no offense display against Notre Dame; the complete team no show for a half against Indiana (Indiana!); and most recently, a devastating Homecoming overtime loss to Iowa with obvious coaching miscues. Oh, not to mention all those dropped passes. Embarrassing

Of course, I've been around for a while, so I know that it’s tough to replace talented veteran players, but it’s been offensive line injuries that have really devastating the Spartans this season. Everybody always seems to forget to talk about the big guys up front when they talk about me, but they are as important as anyone. Losing their starting right tackle (Fou Fonoti), center (Travis Jackson), and big blocking tight end and best pass catcher (Dion Sims) have severely hindered Michigan State from playing the type of smash mouth brand of football that I’ve been known for in the Big Ten for decades. It’s made it difficult to keep the pressure off first year quarterback, Andrew Maxwell, maintain drives, and it’s a big reason the Spartans are 4-3 (1-2 Big Ten).

But this weekend will highlight one of my best qualities: The Rivalry Game. Michigan State’s down year can be partially salvaged with a win over hated rival, Michigan. It would be the 5th straight win in the rivalry for the Spartans, something that they have never accomplished.

On the other hand, for the Wolverines, a win would mean more than snapping the current losing streak to the Spartans, return the Paul Bunyan trophy to Ann Arbor, and clear them a path to the Big Ten Championship game. More importantly, this is a win Michigan needs to make a statement that the school is back to playing Michigan football under Brady Hoke by putting the upstart Spartans back in their place.

See, remember how many great story lines  I give fans every weekend. And none of them involve A-Rod or Jose Valverde. I didn't even have time to talk about my NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE and the Detroit Lions divisional rivalry game on Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. You’ll have to tune in again on Monday to see if I have an update on the pros and maybe some bonus coverage of some of my best moments. Yes, that’s right folks, tonight is my final chance to shine in the regular season under the Friday Night Lights at high schools across Michigan. Conference titles and playoff spots are at stake all across Michigan’s two peninsulas tonight. Playoff brackets are announced Sunday night for the journey to Ford Field Thanksgiving weekend.

Ah, Football. I know you missed me. Enjoy me this weekend before Baseball picks it up again next week.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Live Blogging Game 2 of the ALCS, Go Tigers!

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary
By Doctor

After staying up for each of the Tigers postseason games equaling clued to the TV (ballgame), Facebook page (dialogue with fellow Michigander/Tiger fan), and Twitter feed (satirical Tigers fans handles and writers), I decided to pull a page out of the “Sports Guy” Bill Simmons playbook and live blog the Tigers ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees yesterday.

I thought it would be a fun writing exercise (stream of consciousness type thing) instead of continually to post on Twitter. It was difficult than I thought I’d be, part play-by-play, part analyst, while also trying to through in a few zingers and be funny as well.

Of course, I also had to battle numerous thunderstorm fronts that moved through during the game periodically knocking out the satellite reception as well as hunger as the game ran through dinner. Anywho, I digress, here is the result of my first live blogging experience. I hope you enjoy it for the ability to relive yesterday’s Tigers (and Lions) wins and possibly find a joke or satirical analysis funny. Plus more in depth analysis at the end of the post.

We pick things up in the bottom of the first, since I was distracted by the Lions came going into OT and had to remember I was going to do this. OK. And here we go....

10/14/2012 4:26 PM – Delayed in starting my live blog. Sanchez just snagged a comeback to the mound to end the Yankee threat in the bottom of the first. The Lions have the ball at the 2 minute warning trailing 23-20 to the Eagles. Stafford completes to Megatron who throws a defender off him to get into Eagles territory. Screen pass to Leshoure goes for a loss. Lions TO.

4:29 PM – Calvin ruled out of bounds. Don’t know about that one. Under review.

4:30 PM – Your all-time post-season Tigers franchise home run leader, Delmon Young!  Swing and miss. Young strikes out and that damn founded Yankee Stadium whistle goes off in the background.

4:32 PM – Turn back to the Lions game to find a complete signal loss for the Satellite. Back to the Tigers and Dirks strikes out to end the half inning.

4:33 PM – Call overturned. It’s a Johnson catch and a Lions first down. Lions now with a good chance to win with a touchdown instead of settling for a long field goal attempt to tie. A QB draw with Stafford with no TO’s. WTF Lions. Then he almost throws an interception. Pass interference. First and goal one yard line, 13 seconds. Incomplete. 9 seconds remaining. Incomplete to Calvin Johnson. Jason Hanson time.

4:38 PM – The Lions tie the game with a Jason Hanson field goal. If the Lions can somehow avoid giving up a kick off return for a touchdown, we’re going to overtime.

rest after the jump... 

Art Prize 2012 - Criticisms

Michigan Expats - Commentary 
By Doctor

Earlier this week I shared my highlights from this year’s Art Prize competition (see my Art Prize photos). One thing Art Prize as an organization has done very well is that it has been receptive to criticism and has instituted changes to reflect those criticisms to help the event grow and improve. That’s my goal with this column and my third and final Art Prize post coming up, offer criticism and propose solutions to help improve the world’s largest art competition based in Grand Rapids. Because…

I love Art Prize. You love Art Prize. We all love Art Prize together.

So here, in the spirit of an open dialogue, I present the following criticisms and proposed solutions to help improve Art Prize.

The Top 25 & Short List Announcement
This issue was brought to my attention from this letter to the editor from one of this year’s artist participants, Sylvia Rombis, who brought up the issue of people flocking to see only the entries leading in the vote tallies or this year, on one of the juried prize short lists. Now this is an issue Art Prize is continuing to find the best solution. The issue, as Rombis put it:

“As soon as the top 25 information was released, the competition was over for the almost 1500 remaining entries. Thousands of visitors wanted nothing to do with anything other than the top 25…The top 25 frenzy turned out to be one of the most disrespectful and demoralizing acts I have ever experienced in my 25 years as an arts professional.” – Sylvia Rombis, 2012 Art Prize artist - Bridging Humanity Sculptural Exhibition 

It’s easy to dismiss a lot of these criticisms and complaints as the whining of a sore loser thinking – “well, if you wanted more votes, you should have made a better piece of art.” That would be a mistake. The language Rombis uses, “most disrespectful and demoralizing” represent sincere frustration with a process that still needs to improve.

Now I believe Art Prize understands this as it continues to walk this new fine line of accommodating the art community and the mass public in a truly revolutionary way. In previous years, live time voting results were available on the Art Prize website. This year, Art Prize delayed the release of the voting results to encourage people “to explore, discover ArtPrize on their own, without anyone getting any information on what to see, or what to think,” Art Prize spokesperson Brian Burch.

It’s a difficult obstacle. People like front runners, and naturally are going to want to see what everyone is talking about and leading in the vote tally. Another problem is media coverage. The media emphasized the Top 25 Announcement even though the Short List event focused more on the jurists discussing their short list choices, and I can see how that coverage could be interpreted as a first round of voting by Art Prize visitors

I attended the Short List Announcement at the Art Prize Hub this year and it was a neat event that focused more on the jurist discussing their short list choices for the respective juried prize categories. The release of the top 25 was secondary, but I can see how the media coverage of the event highlighting the Top 25 could be interpreted as a first round of voting by Art Prize visitors. It’s not definitive evidence by any means but that there was little movement in the Top 25 after the announcement.

Critiques continue after the jump...