Sunday, April 29, 2007

NFL Draft 2007 Liveblog -- Day Two (Rounds 4-7)

6:10: And it's over. By my count, 255 picks and just over 17 hours of actual draft time later, the 2007 NFL Draft is over. With the final pick in the draft, Mr. Irrelevant as he is called, the Detroit Lions drafted cornerback Ramzee Robinson (and I'm not making that name up). Overall, I'll give the Lions draft a B- grade, as even though I loved the Stanton pick, and I have full confidence Calvin Johnson is going to be a stud, the Lions inability to fill needs at defensive end, middle linebacker, and in the secondary. They may have picked some good "football character" guys in the later rounds, but none seem to be "impact" players right away, despite having four picks in the first two rounds. Funny, I wanted the Lions to trade down originally so they could end up with four picks in the first two rounds, and they ended up getting them anyway, and they got one starter for next year (Calvin Johnson) at a position which wasn't a big need. So, maybe trading down wasn't the best decision they could have made because they ended up with early picks. They just used them as projects instead of starters. As Tom Kowalski said in the Detroit Lions chat yesterday, the Lions drafted would have been perfect for a 13-3 team, but not so much for a 3-13 team which needs immediate help. So, B-, which, hopefully, is not the grade on my law school Criminal Procedure exam which is tomorrow, which, after 17 hours of draft coverage, it's time to concentrate on.

2:45: ESPN just interviewed Matt Millen about the draft, and, as expected, he raved about Calvin Johnson and Drew Stanton, and seemed in pretty good humor, despite the tradition of losing which has described his tenure with the Lions. The ESPN crew, in stark contrast to most Lions fans (who, at least over at who seem upset with the Lions draft, were quite bullish on the Lions picked, and Mel Kiper singled out Hawaii DE Ikaika Alama-Francis as a potential standout defensive end. For those that missed it, here's Suzy Kolber's interview with Millen.

2:00: The Lions have made their 5th round selection, taking outside linebacker Johnny Baldwin from Alabama A&M. Not sure about that one, some of the major draft scouting homes, like and ESPN/Scouts Inc. don't even have a profile of this guy. Plus, middle linebacker seems like more of a need right now than outside linebacker. But, its round five, so what do I know?

12:10: The Detroit Lions continued to use their excess draft picks to trade up, moving up to pick #117 in the fourth round to select offensive guard Manuel Ramirez. Ramirez benched pressed 550 pounds, which is just amazing. A great bio from
Ramirez is one of the strongest offensive linemen in the collegiate ranks, boasting a school-record bench press of 550 pounds. The four-year starter at right offensive guard is very proficient at protecting the quarterback, having operated in the team's explosive spread offense that averaged 493.98 yards per game and 59 touchdowns per season during his four years manning the right guard position.

Not only is Ramirez the strongest player in the collegiate ranks, he is also known for his field vision and intelligence. He has called all the blocking schemes the last two years and served as the line's mentor for the younger players, as he led a blocking unit that reduced the team's total of sacks allowed from 36 in 2005 to 19 in 2006.

To get Rameriez, we traded two of our three fifth round picks, leaving the Lions with two draft picks left in the draft, 1 in round five and 1 in round seven, the final pick of the draft. I still think the Lions need to address their linebacker but this sounds like a pretty solid pick.

11:30 The Detroit Lions made their fourth round selection, AJ Davis, cornerback out of NC State. Cornerback makes sense for the Lions, but I'm not sure on the pick of Davis. seems high on him, but other than that, most people had him going later in the draft, and there were other, more established cornerbacks on the board, like Auburn's David Irons and Tanard Jackson. Here's what had to say about Davis:
One of the quickest cornerbacks in the country, Davis is regarded as the Atlantic Coast Conference's top man coverage defender. He has drawn comparisons to former Clemson standout Tye Hill, according to opposing ACC coaches, for his ability to instantly change direction and close on the ball with suddenness. He has not only used his impressive quickness and leaping ability to excel on the football field, but was also a productive performer on the Wolfpack's track team.

11:10: Good morning and time for Day Two of the NFL Draft. Rounds 4-7 are today and the Detroit Lions, baring trades, have 4 picks today, 1 in round four, 3 in round five, and 1 in round seven, pick #255, the last pick of the entire draft, known as "Mr. Irrelevant."

After sleeping on yesterday's Day One, I still like (for the most part) what the Lions have done. Yes, I wanted a trade down, and still think that may have been the best move for the franchise, but it is hard to complain about Calvin Johnson, the overall top talent in the draft. And I love the Drew Stanton pick, because of his leadership and athletic ability, and the fact that he'll be able to sit for a full year, learn under Mike Martz, with no pressure. I am disappointed we didn't look at our defense more, and the two defensive picks we made seemed like good football players, with the right "football character" but they were players who likely would have been around later in the draft. I'll give the day a solid B. Time to see what today brings.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

NFL Draft 2007 Liveblog -- Round Two

9:20: The Lions made another trade, getting wild now. They moved up into the second round, trading their second third round pick and one of their two fourth round selections for Boise State Safety Gerald Alexander. Alexander has played both cornerback and safety, and plays pretty quick, but a lot of the draft "experts" didn't have him being drafted until the second day of the draft, so this may be a reach for Matt Millen (wouldn't be the first time he's reached on a player). It does sound, though, that Alexander brings a lot of intangibles and if he can play safety and the nickel cornerback position, he can be a very valuable contributor pretty quickly for the Lions. I like what I read about him on

One of the team's best conditioned athletes, Alexander was the recipient of the 2006 Strength "Iron Bronco" Award for his performance in the training room. On the field, he has been perfectly capable of filling any task the coaching staff asks from him. Having started his Broncos career as a left cornerback, he moved to the right side as a sophomore, back to the left side as a junior and then took over secondary assignment calls as the team's strong safety as a senior.

So, those not familiar with Hawaii and Boise State (c'mon, you aren't watching the WAC?) here are some videos. First up, ESPN's analysis of Hawaii's Ikaika Alama-Francis.

And Mel Kiper talking about Gerald Alexander.

And a hellacious hit from Alexander:

So, this leaves the Lions with 0 picks in the third round, which, now as of 9:30, hasn't started yet somehow. 1 pick in Round 4, 3 in Round 5, and the last pick in the draft, #255. Needs for tomorrow (or I guess tonight if they trade up again) are middle linebacker, cornerback, and maybe another defensive end.

9:00: The Detroit Lions made their third trade of the second round just a few moments ago, trading up to grab Hawaii defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis. I'll be honest, as much as a "draft geek" as I am, I don't know too much about Alma-Francis. He appears to be a big defensive end with a high intensity "motor", and is a hard worker with the "football character" the Lions are looking for. He also has only been playing football for a few years now, so he's raw, with a lot of untapped potential, and if anyone can get the most out of defensive lineman, it is the Lions coaching staff. And we needed help on defense, with defensive end being a significant need for us. So, overall, I'll take this pick on faith, and hope that the Lions are able to get the most out of a player who looks to have a lot of potential. To trade up to #58, the Lions traded a fourth round pick (one of two, the earlier one, #66) and one of their four fifth round picks (#145). Leaving them with three fifth round picks.

8:30: The Detroit Lions, as expected, have traded both Mike Williams and Josh McCown. Neither had a role with the team after the picks of Calvin Johnson and Drew Stanton, and both wanted to be traded and were not happy in Detroit. In exchange, Oakland sent Detroit a the fifth pick in the 4th round, #105. This gives Detroit two 4th round picks and 4 5th round picks tomorrow (and the last pick in the draft, "Mr. Irrelevant".) I don't mind the trade, but to me, the Lions took a huge cap-hit when they traded Williams, a hit they could have avoided if they would have simply cut Williams a "June 1st" cut, and just having him as a throw in to the McCown-to-Oakland deal, not sure that makes a lot of sense. And, for Oakland, I actually think Williams will be a nice pickup for them. He'll be back in California, in familiar surroundings, with Lane Kiffen, who coached him at USC, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him turn his career around there.

7:45: So, the Lions have glaring holes on defense and have not worked on either of those yet, choosing instead to draft on offense. And even though I would have liked to have seen David Harris or Georgia's Charles Johnson in a Lions uniform, I really think Stanton is going to be a great NFL player. As Tom Kowalski writes over at MLive, Stanton just has "it", he's a leader, and quarterbacks need to be leaders. Here is the ESPN video of Stanton being drafted by the Lions and the analysis from the ESPN crew.

And for those looking for a "pre-draft" scouting take on Stanton, here's another YouTube video I dug up:

As for analysis of the pick, the national media likes it for the most part, at least from what I've seen. CNNSI liked it.
Matt Millen gets his young quarterback with this pick. With Jon Kitna getting older, Stanton becomes the heir apparent to what could be an explosive offense. And Kitna was a great mentor to Carson Palmer in Cincy, so he should help Stanton as much as possible.

7:27: Man, this draft is taking forever. 6 hours plus for Round One, and we are at 7:27 and only a dozen or so picks into round two. Now, I love the draft but this is crazy. At least the Lions made a selection, and they went offense again, drafting Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton. Even though the defense obviously needs a lot of work, and Stanton won't help them this season, I love the pick. Stanton is a football player, was the gunner on the punt team for Michigan State, as a quarterback (that's just insane) and he's a phenomenal athlete. He can throw a fastball 90 MPH+, can move around in the pocket, and is a born leader. Maybe I'm biased because I watched him in high school, at Harrison High (right up the road), but I've thought since then that he was going to be a star in the NFL, and I think the Lions may have finally found their "quarterback of the future." Highlights soon.

6:38: The Lions traded their second round pick (#34) to Buffalo for their second round pick (#43) and their third round pick (#74). So we dropped 10 spots, and picked up an early third round pick. To me, that's a good trade. With most of the top defensive ends and safetys gone, and perhaps with the Lions not as sold on David Harris as I am, they felt like they could trade back, and still get the guy they want. They can now get potentially two defensive starters with their second and two third round picks and get a QB for the future. Should be interesting as we go forward.

6:30: And the Detroit Lions have not selected in the second round. They have traded down with Buffalo instead. We should have the details of the trade shortly.

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NFL Draft 2007 Liveblog -- Round One

5:45: Not an NFL Draft update, per se, but Pavel Datsuyk just scored for the Detroit Red Wings, capping a great third period comeback, which evened up their series with the San Jose Sharks one game apiece. It was a game the Wings had to have, and when they fell behind 2-0 early on, it didn't look good, but with a beautiful goal by Datsuyk, the Wings have momentum again, and now they can try to steal a game in San Jose. Lions second round pick is coming up soon, and I'll start a new post for that "live blog."

4:20: Brady Quinn has finally been drafted, #22 to Cleveland, which just traded with Dallas. I've said a bunch of times that I am not a Quinn guy, but #22 is good value for him, and for the Browns to walk away with both Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn, that's a good day. 11 picks to go before the Lions select again and DE Anthony Spencer and ILB David Harris are both still on the board, but I can't see either sliding to the Lions at #34 sadly. If both are gone, the Lions are going to have to consider taking a QB even though it means their needs on defense won't be addressed until Round 3.

3:00: Okay, it's almost 3:00, and we are 14 picks in. A few stunners (Ted Ginn going #9 to Miami makes no sense, the guy is a glorified kick returner who while incredibly fast I don't think translates as anything more than Donte Hall at the NFL level) and Brady Quinn is still on the board, but other than that, not a lot of surprises. After everyone talked about there being so much volatility at the start of the draft, there ended up being no trades at all so far. And I can't say I'm surprised with Quinn's fall. He struggled mightily everytime he played a good team last season. And now, he has been moved away from the media, away from the ESPN cameras to avoid being shown everytime a team takes another player.

They were serious and suddenly the playful fun of awaiting his fate on national television started to look a little more uncomfortable for Quinn. When it became clear that Quinn would have a long wait, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell invited him and his family into a private suite at Radio City Music Hall, away from the cameras.

I'm starting to feel bad for Brady Quinn, but then again, I really don't. He just wasn't that good of a quarterback when it comes down to it. I thought going in he was overrated, but apparently, he wasn't, as teams are staying away, at least for now.

No Michigan players drafted yet, but Leon Hall and Alan Branch. The pick of Adam Carriker at #13 to St. Louis isn't great news for the Lions. If they were hoping that Carriker or Purdue defenive end Anthony Spencer would slide to round two, it doesn't look like that is going to happen.

1:15: The Detroit Lions are keeping Calvin Johnson, so says GM Matt Millen, who was ecstatic to the point of defiance almost in how much he loved Calvin Johnson's talent. As I said before, just because we have taken wide receivers three of the last four years should not have played any factor in taking Calvin Johnson. If we got a great trade offer, that was different, but as it is, he is a much safer pick then Gaines Adams or Leon Hall, and even Patrick Willis, who I really like. And looking at this interview that he had with ESPN this afternoon after he was selected, you can tell how genuinely looking forward to playing in the NFL and for the Detroit Lions.

As for the national analysis, it continues to be positive. CBS Sportsline's Pete Prisco gives the Lions draft of Johnson an "A".
They could steal deal this pick to the Bucs, but give the Lions credit if they keep the pick. They got the best player in the draft. Admitting your mistakes is key in the NFL, and they did that by taking another receiver.

Pro Football Weekly also raved about Johnson.
Johnson is the safest pick in the draft, and I expect the Raiders will regret passing on him in the very near future. Give Lions GM Matt Millen a lot of credit. He drafted three receivers in the last four years, including two (Charles Rogers and Mike Williams) that have proven to be very bad decisions, but he was firm enough in his conviction not to fold against public sentiment or fear what fans might think. He made the right decision. Johnson could pair with Roy Williams to give the Lions the best receiving corps in the league in no time. Mike Martz has a plan for the Johnson if they keep him, and his combination of size, speed, hands and body control could create big-time mismatches against opponents.

12:45: It looks, at this point, that the Detroit Lions are keeping Calvin Johnson. And while I desperately wanted a trade down, how can you be upset with keeping Calvin Johnson, who has been called the best wide receiver prospect since Jerry Rice? And for those that missed it, here is the moment of truth, the Detroit Lions selection of Calvin Johnson:

And they could still make a trade. I think, one second round pick and a player, isn't enough. But if they turned down two second round picks, that would be a mistake. As it stands, NFL "experts", love the pick. Check out the analysis from
The Lions' checkered history with first-round wide receivers notwithstanding, they had no other choice but to select Calvin Johnson. They had to stay true to their board -- not to mention the boards of every team in the league -- and go with the player widely viewed as the most talented in the draft. Johnson could very well have been the top overall pick, but once the Raiders selected Russell, Johnson was automatic in the No. 2 spot. It's possible the Lions could end up making a trade that would send Johnson elsewhere in exchange for defensive end Gaines Adams, who will likely be picked later in the top five, but if they simply end up keeping Johnson, that would not be a disaster ... despite the Lions' recent history with receiver picks.

12:33 The Detroit Lions have selected WR Calvin Johnson. The question now is, do we keep him?
AP Photo

12:21: The Oakland Raiders have taken QB JaMarcus Russell , the Detroit Lions now on the clock. It's either Calvin Johnson, or let's hope and hope and hope a trade-down.

11:50: Tom Kowalski, my colleague over @ Michigan Live, is reporting the phones are "ringing off the hook" in Allen Park with teams wanting to trade for the #2 overall pick.
A source close to the situation just told me that the phones are already ringing off the hook in Detroit's war room and the offers for Calvin Johnson are flooding in. The Lions weren't expecting the action to heat up until they were on the clock but teams apparently believe the reports that JaMarcus Russell is going to the Raiders and now the Lions have the option on Johnson.

Since a trade-down is my best-case scenario, I'm getting pretty excited at this point.
11:33: is reporting that a Detroit Lions trade down with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have the #4 overall pick in the draft, is "close."
A source with knowledge of the situation tells us that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Detroit Lions are close to a deal that would send the No. 2 overall pick in the draft -- presumably, receiver Calvin Johnson -- to the Bucs.

On Friday, the Lions decided to take Johnson absent a deal that they like. We've heard that they want the No. 4 pick, both of the Bucs' second-round selections, and cornerback Brian Kelly.

If that is the package from Tampa Bay, Detroit can't turn it down. The trade would give them a starter at cornerback (Kelly), presumably the defensive end they crave in Gaines Adams at #4, and then three picks in the second round which they can either use on a linebacker and a quarterback and an offensive lineman, or which they can package together to move back up into the bottom of Round One. I don't care how good Calvin Johnson is, Kelly and three draft picks is worth it.

11:06: Welcome to my "live blogging" of the 2007 NFL Draft. With the Detroit Lions having the #2 pick, and the draft under an hour away, this should be a pretty exciting day. Still no word on whom Oakland plans on selecting #1 overall, and the Lions pick all hinges on that. I still think the Lions should, if at all possible, trade down and draft either Gaines Adams, LaRon Landry or Patrick Willis, adding a linebacker, quarterback, and cornerback in round two if they were able to acquire two additional second round picks in a trade down. I'm warming a bit to Leon Hall, but I'm still not convinced he's a better choice than Patrick Willis. We'll see.

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2007 NFL Draft Preview aka Why the Detroit Lions Shouldn't Draft Calvin Johnson

The 2007 NFL Draft is roughly 12 hours away and for the first time in a few years, absolutely nothing is settled at the start of the draft. The Oakland Raiders draft #1 overall, and they haven't decided whom they are going to take, much less reach a contract agreement with that player like Houston did with Mario Williams last season. And everything for the Detroit Lions hinges on Oakland's selection. If the Raiders choose a quarterback, either Brady Quinn or JaMarcus Russell, as expected, the Detroit Lions have a very interesting decision on their hands. Calvin Johnson, who has been described as a once in a generation wide receiver, and one of only two "sure things" in the draft (with LSU safety LaRon Landry the other), will be on the board. The Detroit Lions could take him or they could trade down, gather additional picks, and help themselves in a variety of other areas.

Despite Johnson's immense talent, and incredible potential, I think it would be a huge mistake to draft him if, as expected, Tampa Bay and Atlanta are fighting over themselves to draft Johnson, and the Lions are offered numerous second round draft picks to move down. And this feeling has nothing to do with the fact that the Lions have taken three wide receivers in the past four years in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, with two of those picks, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams, being huge disasters. The Lions can't look back. They should only look forward. The draft picks they made in the past are a sunk cost. They can't go back. If the team needs a wide receiver (and their pursuit of Kevin Curtis this off-season shows that the team believes that they do) and Johnson is as good as everyone says (and there's little doubt that he's going to be a star) then the Lions should not let the fact that they have constantly drafted wide receivers in the first round stop them.

What should stop them, though, is the potential of additional draft picks and players in trades from both Atlanta and Tampa Bay, as both teams are desperate for CJ. While Johnson could be a force across the field from Roy Williams for years to come, giving Mike Martz his Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt in Detroit, the Lions have much, much bigger holes to fill than wide receiver. They need a pass rusher, an inside linebacker, a backup quarterback, and a cornerback. Should the Lions trade down with Tampa Bay, in the first two rounds of the draft, they could solve three of those problems. One earlier trade rumor had Tampa Bay sending their first round pick #4, a second round pick, and either a second, second round pick or cornerback Brian Kelly. With those picks, the Lions could take defensive end Gaines Adams, quarterback prospect Drew Stanton (or Trent Edwards from Stanford) and get either Brian Kelly or use the additional second round pick on a linebacker like Michigan's David Harris. In either case, they get their defensive end, their quarterback, and either a solid veteran cornerback or a young rookie linebacker who can step in and play right away. Plus, they have their own second round pick. That's four picks in the first two rounds, leading to four potential starters. Should the Lions draft and hold onto Johnson, they don't get additional draft picks, and it would likely prevent the Lions from taking a quarterback in the second round of the draft, which I would really like to see happen, because I think Drew Stanton is going to be a star in the NFL.

With all of that said, Johnson would not be the worst decision the Lions could make tomorrow (cough, Leon Hall, cough), and I'm not sold on Gaines Adams, the defensive end the Lions seem to be focused on if they don't draft Johnson. There are a lot of questions about Adams work ethic and football IQ, and Mississippi's Patrick Willis and LSU's LaRon Landry have no such question marks and both could step in and start at key positions which are hard to fill (middle linebacker and safety). So between Johnson and Adams, I would like to see the Lions take Johnson, even if technically, defensive end is a bigger "need" for the Lions. But, with the potential for a trade down, and Willis or Landry sitting on the board at #8, or even Adams on the board at #4 with additional second round picks in the wings, the Lions have to take that trade, no matter how much of a star they think Johnson may become.

So, if I were the Lions, in order of preference, here is what I hope happens:

1. Detroit Lions trade down to #8, draft Patrick Willis (or LaRon Landry), acquire two additional second round selections (and perhaps a later additional pick), and draft QB Drew Stanton, DE Anthony Spencer, and a cornerback (Or ILB David Harris if Landry is selected at #8)

2. Detroit Lions trade down to #4, draft Gaines Adams, acquire two additional second round selections, draft QB Drew Stanton, ILB David Harris, and a cornerback.

3. Draft Calvin Johnson, draft either Harris, Stanton, or Spencer in round two.

4. No other option would really make me very happy. Staying at #2 to draft Adams would be a worst case scenario, because it means Oakland took Calvin Johnson #1 overall and we can't trade down. Trading down to take Leon Hall would similarly not make me happy because I don't see Hall being a very productive NFL player.

In twelve hours, we'll all know for sure what happened. And I'll be live-blogging it right here. And while if we do end up with Calvin Johnson tomorrow, I won't be tremendously upset, because he is such a incredible talent, I just can't help but feel like giving up the chance to acquire two additional second round picks, giving the Lions four picks in the first two rounds, where the team could acquire four potential starters (or three starters on defense and a future starting quarterback) is just too much to pass up if its offered. Just too much.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Detroit Lions Potential Draft Pick(s) Videos

With the NFL Draft less than 48 hours away, the Detroit Lions, at the #2 overall pick, have a lot of options to consider. Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams, Mississippi inside linebacker Patrick Willis, and LSU safety LaRon Landry are all possibilities. I think the Lions should trade down from the #2 spot and grab Willis myself, but I'll have more on that in a draft preview post late Friday night. In the meantime, here's some scouting and highlight videos I found on YouTube of the most likely Lions draft selections, Adams Willis, and Landry.

Update: And, by special request from the Detroit Lions Forum, I've added video of the Lions other possible target, Georgia Tech Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson.

Update 4/27: With the added possibility that if the Lions trade down they could draft Michigan cornerback Leon Hall (and man, what a disaster that would be. After watching Hall for the past four years at Michigan I can tell you he's not going to be a very good NFL cornerback. I will not be happy if the Lions pass on LaRon Landry or Patrick Willis to take Hall), I've added a Hall scouting video from YouTube below. Enjoy.

Update 4/28: I've moved the Calvin Johnson video up to the top, seeing as how the Lions, you know, selected him. Figured that was best.

Calvin Johnson:

Gaines Adams:

Patrick Willis:

LaRon Landry:

Leon Hall:

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Major League Baseball and Highlight Clips

A few days ago, I posted a blog entry on the Detroit Tigers 6-5 come from behind victory over the Chicago White Sox. I included a video of the game winning hit, Placido Polanco's game winning single. Today, that video-clip was removed from YouTube as an alleged violation of Major League Baseball's copyright. I don't know very much about the law in this area, but my good buddy and fellow University of Michigan Law Student, Kurt, who writes his own great blog over @ Clever WoT, has studied the issue of internet copyright quite a bit and is working on a note now about YouTube and fair use video clips. Kurt has some analysis of Major League Baseball's takedown of my video, and its well worth checking out. Interesting stuff.

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Apple, Post Huge Earnings

I feel like I've been transported back to 1999, when the tech bubble continued to grow and it seemed like every day stocks like and EBay and Yahoo were going up, 25, 30%. First, posts huge earnings on Tuesday (we'll get to that in a moment) and its stock goes up 26% on Wednesday, then Apple responds in kind with their own blowout quarter this afternoon according to the Associated Press.

Apple Inc. blew past Wall Street expectations Wednesday, posting quarterly profits that jumped by 88 percent, fueled by strong sales of its iPod players and Macintosh computers.

In the first three months of the year, the Cupertino-based company said it earned $770 million, or 87 cents per share, up from $410 million, or 47 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Sales were $5.26 billion, up 21 percent from $4.36 billion last year.

Analysts, on average, were looking for earnings of 64 cents per share on sales of $5.17 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

The stock is currently up almost 8% after hours, and it is probably only getting started. $5.26 billion in sales is gigantic number, and this is before the Apple IPhone and the Apple TV. Imagine what their sales numbers are going to be like once those products are released. It's almost scary to think about.

Then there's I wrote about that stock earlier this afternoon, in a post I've moved and reposted here. As I took a break from studying earlier this afternoon to watch some of CNBC's Street Signs with the great Erin Burnett, she was discussing's blowout financial quarter and the stock is up 26.75% as of this writing, up $11.93 to $56.66. I don't think Amazon ever went up that much in the entire time I owned it, which was many years, as I waited, and waited, and waited for it to regain its former glory. Today does remind though of following the tech boom in high school (and, sadly, not investing in like I should have, too bad the Detroit News wasn't paying me more to write my sports columns) when stocks like Amazon, Yahoo, and EBay would go up 25, 30% seemingly every day. Except back then, the stocks were 300, 400 dollar stocks, not $55 stocks. I owned a small amount of Amazon for a while, but mainly it was a learning experience, as I got in far too late, as the tech bubble was bursting, and had to wait for years for the stock to do anything other than go down. I waited for a day like today during my holding of Amazon. Never quite happened though. And I love, as a company. I love buying books, and I can't remember the last time I bought a book at a bookstore. Just too expensive compared to Amazon.

With giants like Microsoft set to report earnings tomorrow and the Dow Jones Industrials Average hitting 13,000 today, it certainly has a feel of 1999, even if the NASDAQ is still at half the amount it was at its peak. Oh to be able to go back and buy Yahoo and Amazon and EBay before anyone could pronounce Yahoo or EBay. Or even Google for that matter. Next time, maybe.

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The Lightning Round

Seeing as how I am currently up to my eyes in Sports Law, Criminal Procedure, and Accounting for Lawyers (yes, finals are upon us) as well as reading about potential Detroit Lions NFL Draft trades and trying to make time for a Tigers game Friday and NHL/NBA playoff watching, we'll hit some quick hit topics today, which I'll call the "The Lightning Round" in honor of Jim Cramer's segment on his great CNBC TV Show, Mad Money

** Astronomers find Earth-like Planet: I'm not a big "science fiction" guy. I've never gotten into Star Trek, never watched Star Wars, but Contact and Gattaca are two of my favorite movies, and The 4400 and Heroes are two television shows I watch on a regular basis, so I don't know where on the continuum that places me. But I will say I was intrigued by the headline of astronomers finding an earth-like planet a few trillion miles away, with similar temperatures and potentially similar properties to earth. An artist rendering of the planet, from the Associated Press, is below.

I think in the next few years, especially as technology continues to increase, more "planets" like these will be found, that are similar to Earth. There are just too many stars out there and galaxies and whatever else for there not to be planets with similar compositions to earth. I'm more skeptical about finding life on these planets, or at least, anything like what we consider to be life on earth. There's probably life out there somewhere, but, its probably absolutely nothing like the aliens and spaceships and flying saucers most people consider to be "alien life." Interesting to think about in any case.

** NFL Draft Nears: I can't wait for the NFL Draft on Saturday. This time of year is great. Espeically with the Detroit Lions holding the #2 pick and teams fighting with themselves to trade up to draft Calvin Johnson and the fear that Johnson will be taking #1 overall by Oakland, leaving the Lions stuck with the #2 pick. I'll have a draft preview post late Friday night, but for now, even though I wrote in one my first blog posts ever here that I wanted the Lions to take Wisconsin Offensive Tackle Joe Thomas, I've switched to either wanting Mississippi linebacker Patrick Willis or LSU Safety LeRon Landry. Of course, all signs point to the Lions taken neither of those players, choosing instead Clemson DE Gaines Adams. Adams put up great numbers at Clemson, and is a speed rusher the Lions need to make their "Tampa 2" defense work, but there are questions about his worth ethic and motivation, and if there's anything the Lions should have learned from the Charles Rogers and Mike Williams debacles, its taking players who don't have 100% dedication to being a success won't work. And the Lions coaching staff always talks about "football character." I'm not sure Adams has the "football character" the Lions want.

** Larry Brown to Return to NBA Sidelines? I thought this was a joke when I first saw it, but apparently the Memphis Grizzlies are interviewing Larry Brown for their head coaching position. This is a disaster. I love Larry Brown. He's a great coach. He brought the Detroit Pistons to an NBA Championship and he should have won a second when he was here. But, he's done as a coach. He was a disaster in New York (though, that was also partly Isiah Thomas' fault) and he's done as a head coach. He may be one of the best coaches ever in the NBA, but I just can't see him being successful in a rebuilding situation. Taking over a team on the verge of winning a title like the Pistons is one thing, taking on Memphis, no, no no. Bad idea.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Detroit Pistons Win Game Two Over Orlando

It was another Detroit Pistons playoff victory over the Orlando Magic tonight, one it seemed most people weren't paying much attention to, including the Pistons themselves. At this point, it is pretty obvious, to the fans, to the Pistons, and even to the Magic, that Detroit is just a deeper, more talented team and they are going to win this series. But that doesn't mean there isn't anything to worry about if you are a Pistons fan.

The NBA Eastern Conference may not be very good, but the Pistons are not going to be able to sleepwalk their way through the entire playoffs like they have this series with Orlando. The Pistons, in both of the first two games in this series, have had chances to put the Magic away early, but they never do. Then they have a chance to put the game away in the third quarter, and they don't get it done then either. It's almost as if the Pistons, looking for a challenge, let Orlando get back into the game, like a kid playing a videogame looking for a challenge that isn't being provided. More than likely, the team just loses concentration for a few moments, realizing they don't need to be functioning at full capacity to take down the Magic. Which is fine, for now, but in the next rounds, against Cleveland, or Chicago, or Miami, the Pistons need to be fully focused. And it may be hard to just flip a switch and turn it on, so better they start now, and put away the Magic in games three and four, and get into their groove.

AP Photo

Not to be completely negative on the Pistons. Rasheed Wallace looks about as focused as I've seen him in a while, and the Pistons had a very balanced attack in Game Two (Tayshaun Prince scored 18, Wallace 17, Richard Hamilton 22, and Chancey Billups 23) and while Carlos Delfino only scored a single point tonight, he had a very strong Game One. The Pistons shouldn't have much problem in Orlando (the team actually had a better road record than home record this season) and while the Magic could steal a game and force a fifth game, it certainly won't go further than that.

The Detroit Red Wings, on the other hand, have a much tougher road ahead of them. Instead of facing the Dallas Stars, a relatively easy matchup, the Stars lost in their Game Seven tonight, meaning the Wings have to face the San Jose Sharks. My first thought was (sarcastic) joy over more late games on the West Coast. Secondly, Game Two is 3:00 Saturday, right in the middle of the first round of the NFL Draft. I should have a real preview up in the next day or so.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Boris Yeltsin Passes Away

Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin died today at the age of 76, and while there are plenty of places to go read about his life and experience and all of his accomplishments (MSNBC has a great compilation of stories if you are looking for more information like that) I don't have much to say about his death. Not being a student of Russian history, I don't feel I have much to add to the conversation. But, what I can add, is some humor to lighten the mood for those feeling down after President Yeltsin's death. So, at the risk of being insensitive, here are the Top 3 YouTube videos featuring Boris Yeltsin.
3. Yeltsin Throws Young Girl In Ocean:

2. Yeltsin Shares a Laugh with Bill Clinton:

And perhaps the most famous clip of all, 1. Yeltsin Dances:

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Detroit Red Wings Douse Calgary Flames; Win Series

I'm exhausted. So imagine how the Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames feel right now. Just over 24 hours after Game Five ended, Game Six began, and by the time Game Six ended it was almost time for Game Seven. Except, there will be no Game Seven because in double overtime, Johan Franzen, the same Johan Franzen who was slashed in the midsection in Game Five, scored on a rocket of a shot to send the Flames home and send the Detroit Red Wings on to the second round. It was a great goal to cap a great, great game, and for those that weren't awake at just past 12:40 a.m., here's the video which I posted to YouTube shortly after the game ended:

As for the rest of the game (not that this recap matters a whole lot right now considering the great outcome, but there was a game before the Wings skated off in victory) it was a classic playoff battle, both teams fighting hard, both teams not giving an inch. I'll be honest, when Calgary scored first, I didn't feel very confident, but when Robert Lang's goal in the second period tied the score, I knew we at least had a shot. And with the way Hasek and Kiprusoff were playing, I knew it also could be quite a while before we had another goal, and I was right on that one too.
Robert Lang celebrates (AP Photo)

The first overtime was just great hockey, both teams with amazing scoring chances, both goalies with incredible saves. When the Red Wings, though, didn't capitalize on their four-minute Power Play after the high stick to Holmstrom (and let's hope he's all right, he was taken to the hospital to get further stitched up) I got nervous again. I knew the next Power Play was going to go to the Flames (it did), but the Wings Penalty Kill was up for the challenge and the rest of the first overtime flew by. Then the second OT started, and just like that, Johan Franzen scored and the Wings were moving on.

As I've written before, there is just something special about overtime playoff hockey. This game was no different. Maybe it's the fact that there are no commercial timeouts, so it's just 20-minutes of hockey, and at any split second, it could be over. Espeically in a game like this which means so much, and could either end the Flames season or send us to a Game Seven in Detroit. You don't get a chance to catch your breath, and neither do the players. And when you win, like the Detroit Red Wings did tonight, it's especially sweet.

And with that, it's 12:50 in the morning so I'm signing off.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Big Comeback Win for the Detroit Tigers

I called my dad after Marcus Thames tied the Detroit Tigers-Chicago White Sox game this afternoon in the bottom of the 9th inning (I wanted to make sure he hadn't given up on the Tigers game and had it on) and he told me that he was glad Thames came through, because it would have been a real shame had the Detroit Tigers drawn 120,000+ fans to Comerica Park in downtown Detroit on a picture perfect weekend in April only to get swept by the Chicago White Sox.

AP Photo
Well thanks to Thames and to Placido Polanco, who is easily the Tigers most valuable player this early in the season, the Tigers staged a late rally to defeat the White Sox 6-5 in 12 innings.

The Tigers needed this victory too. After losing the series ender to Kansas City, and the first two games to to the White Sox, showing some life, and fighting back after falling behind, shows the character of this Tigers team. And hopefully it gives them some much needed confidence and can digg Tigers batters out of their offensive slumps.

Marcus Thames showed how valuable he is today with his ninth-inning game-tying home run, and with Craig Monroe and Sean Casey struggling, perhaps Thames deserves more playing time going forward. And what can you say about Placido Polanco? He's leading the AL in batting, he is unbelievable with runners in scoring position, and he's already wrapped up a spot on the All Star team and its only April. There are just not enough superlatives to describe both what a great player Polanco is and how valuable he is to the Tigers team.

AP Photo
And today's victory came after some interesting managerial decisions by skipper Jim Leyland, first choosing to let hitless-for-his-career Mike Rabelo bat in the seventh inning, with a runner on third base (the go-ahead run at that point) and then not bunting Curtis Granderson with a runner on second and no outs in the 10th inning. I don't mind letting Granderson swing away in the 10th. Yes, classic baseball says to bunt, but Granderson has been successful before in the same situation (winning a game last season in a bunting situation when he swung away and got the game winning hit) and Pudge Rodriguez, in a bunting situation earlier this season in Kansas City (runners on 1st and 2nd with 0 out in the top of the 9th) hit a 3-run home run to win the game. So, if Leyland was a genius then, he's not suddenly Charlie Manuel now. But, I didn't understand letting Rabelo bat in the 7th. Yes, the Tigers have a long roadtrip to Anaheim tonight, and he wanted to give Pudge Rodriguez a full game off, but winning this game was critical giving how the Tigers have been struggling lately, and pinch-hitting Pudge gave you the best shot to make that happen. And it wasn't as if Leyland was resigned to never use Rodriguez, as he brought him in the game in the 9th inning. It all worked out, but it certainly gives the message boards something to talk about going into this week's games.

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NHL Suspends McLennan; Fines Flames

The National Hockey League sent a message today that deliberately using your stick to try to injure another player, at the behest of your team, will result in little discipline to either you or your team. According to an official NHL release, Calgary Flames Goalie Jamie McLennan will be suspended for five games (a meaningless penalty considering he's a backup goalie), Calgary coach Jim Playfair has been fined $25,000 and the Flames’ organization has been fined $100,000 for actions taken in Saturday's Game Five.

“In our pre-playoff conference calls with the coaches and General Managers of the respective organizations, we addressed a number of topics – and one of them was actions late in the game when the score was out of hand,” said Colin Campbell, NHL Senior Executive Vice president and Director of Hockey Operations. “The coach and the organization must be held accountable for the players’ actions.”

If the NHL really wanted to hold a team accountable though, $100,000 and a five game suspension to a player who isn't going to play anyway isn't the way to do it. Espeically when you consider that McLennan wasn't the only Flames player to play dirty. Daymond Langkow’s sucker punch of Brett Lebda was just as bad, and Lebda was injured as a result, and won't play in tonight's Game Six due to a concussion. Jarome Iginla was guilty of some cross checks and other cheap shots as well. None of them were punished, even with a fine. And, once again, for those that did not see the McLennan slash, the video is below.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wings, and Tigers, and Pistons -- Why Detroit is Great

If there was any doubt that Detroit, Michigan was the best sports city in the world, today put that to rest. Sure, the Detroit Tigers lost, but if you were a really dedicated sports fan (and I would have done this had I not been in the middle of studying for law school finals, and I made it to Comerica Park as it was) you could have seen the Detroit Tigers game, the Detroit Red Wings-Calgary Flames Game Five playoff game, and Game One of the Detroit Pistons-Orlando Magic series, all in person, all in the same 12 hour span. Quite the day and evening for Detroit sports.

So where to begin. Let's start with the Red Wings, who proved that when they want to turn it on and dominate, they can. I missed most of the game in transit from the Tigers game (more on that debacle below) and one of the first things I heard on the radio was that Dan Clearly had scored a "short handed penalty shot goal." I thought for sure I had misheard something or that the great Ken Kal had made a rare mistake. Turns out, he was right. After leaving their special teams (both their Power Play and their Penalty Kill) in Detroit during Games Three and Four in Calgary, the Wings responded in force on Saturday, scoring on Cleary's penalty shot, adding a shorthanded goal by the ageless Chris Chelios (the fact that he can play at such a high level at 45 is amazing) and two Power Play goals. If only they were able to play like this just during one of the two games in Calgary, the team wouldn't have to make the 1,800 mile journey for a game scheduled for 9:00 tomorrow, just under 30 hours after Game Five ended. Nice to see Henrik Zetterberg get on the scoreboard for the first time this playoff (he scored twice) and Pavel Datsuyk scored again, his third goal of the series. When these two guys are on their games, the Wings are obviously very difficult to beat.

The end of the game was a disgrace. For those that didn't see the game, Calgary backup goalie, Jamie McLennan, just eighteen seconds into his appearance, gave a viscous and deliberate two handed slash to Johan Franzen. It was uncalled for and it shouldn't be part of hockey, and the NHL would be wise to come down hard on McLennan. Sure, it won't hurt Calgary since he's their backup goaltender, but it would send a message that blows designed to injure, and made out of nothing other than frustration, should not be tolerated. Here's video of the incident, from a few different angles, for those that missed it:

And that wasn't the only cheap shot by Calgary. Daymond Langkow sucker-punched and gave a concussion to Brett Lebda and Jarome Iginla got into the act as well. He told that
"It was really about getting some fights going at that point to keep our energy up and carry some anger into the next game," Iginla said with several new stitches over his left eye. "We're not going away."

You just lose respect for players and teams when they get intentionally violent like the Flames did today. I understand trying to get an edge back and playing physical to try to get a team out of their gameplan, but to intentionally injure players, and strike with reckless blows to "send a message", that's not hockey, that's being a thug. And it shouldn't be tolerated by the NHL.

For more analysis of Calgary's dirty play, Christy at Behind the Jersey has a recap of national and local coverage of all of the dirty plays by the Flames and Dave at Gorilla Crunch has a great post about Red Wings GM Ken Holland screaming at NHL executives to suspend Calgary players for their actions. Great stuff.

Moving on to the Tigers, I was at Comerica Park, and while there were close to 40,000 fans in the stands, nobody went home happy (well, maybe a few White Sox fans). The Tigers are just not playing good baseball right now, and today's game hit all of the negatives:

Defense: The Tigers had three very costly errors today, and while the team has only committed four errors on the season coming into this afternoon's game, the way they played today wipes all of that out. And the team would have a lot more errors if not for Sean Casey's excellent play at first base.

Offense: Craig Monroe, Brandon Inge, Sean Casey, and Gary Sheffield are all hitting under .200. That's practically half the lineup. And Magglio Ordonez, despite a solo home run today, is getting close to the .200 level. That's unacceptable. Sheffield has the support of Tigers fans now, but they won't stick with him for long considering his huge contract and his lack of performance so far. We're giving him the benefit of the doubt because his history tells us he's one of the best batters in baseball, but, so far, we haven't seen it in Detroit. Inge, Monroe, and Casey are also really struggling, and no matter how well Casey plays at first base, if he can't turn his performance around at the plate, the Tigers should consider calling up Chris Shelton, who is playing very well at AAA Toledo. Maybe manager Jim Leyland should consider changing his lineup a bit, moving Sheffield down in the order, moving Pudge to 3rd or Guillen to 3rd. Something just to shake things up, because right now, nothing is working.

Bullpen: Todd Jones blew his first save of the season Wednesday, Joel Zumaya gave up a lead today, and Fernando Rodney has been horrendous all season, and already has four losses, which most relievers have as a season total. They have to sit Rodney down for a while. Aquilino Lopez, called up from AAA Toledo to replace the injured Jose Mesa, pitched really well in his Tigers debut on Friday night. Maybe he should take Rodney's spot late in games, at least for a week or so, just so Rodney can take a step back and try to get back into what he's capable of. He has nasty stuff, he just hasn't shown it this season for whatever reason. And until he does, the Tigers are going to be relying heavily on Todd Jones and Joel Zumaya, and those two guys can't carry an entire bullpen.

You may have noticed I haven't written much about the Pistons-Magic game. Well, that's because it was business as usual for the Pistons, who led throughout and won Game One. Not nearly as much controversy there as there is the Wings and Tigers. Or as much to complain about. I will say this though, the Pistons need to be careful. Even though they led most of the game, Orlando never went away, and they almost made a run at the game late. The Pistons can't relax, and can't sit back at all. If Dwight Howard makes a few more free throws, the Magic have a few less unforced errors, and it may have been a different game. It got way too close at the end. The Pistons should continue to win games handily in this series, but as the Magic showed today, they are a team that can, at the very least, put a scare into Motown.

And that concludes what was the busiest day in sports until next weekend, when hopefully the Wings and Pistons continue their playoff runs, the Tigers battle the Minnesota Twins, and the NFL Draft commences. Great time a year to be a sports fan. Not the greatest time of year to be taking law school exams. But, it's all about balancing your time right?

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Mets Fan Charged With "Interference With a Professional Sporting Event "

I'll have some comments on the pathetic Detroit Tigers, high flying Detroit Red Wings, and (hopefully) 1-0 Detroit Pistons late tonight after the basketball game, but, for all you depressed Tigers fans in need of a pick me up (and you've already watched the Boston Red Sox pizza throwing video) here's another ridiculous baseball story.

According to our good friends over at the Associated Press, a New York Mets fan was charged with reckless endangerment and interference with a professional sporting event" (I'm not making that charge up).

A 40-year-old man arrested at Shea Stadium on Friday night is accused of trying to distract an Atlanta Braves pitcher and shortstop with a high-powered flashlight.

Authorities said Martinez flashed the powerful light at the players in the bottom of the eighth inning from his seat behind home plate. He was quickly ejected from the game.

A law making it expressly illegal to interfere with a professional sporting event was passed by the city in 2003 following a disruptive incident involving fashion designer Calvin Klein.

Klein stepped onto the basketball court at Madison Square Garden in March 2003 to speak with player Latrell Sprewell while a Knicks game was in progress.

There are a thousand things funny about the incident, but the flashlight guy is likely not laughing, seeing as he is now facing up to a year in jail as a result of the incident. A few comments are in order. First, great idea, but poor execution. Why waste it in a meaningless April regular season game? Why not wait until the playoffs, when blinding a pitcher could actually make an impact. I'm kidding of course. Kind of.

I think just the fact that there is an offense titled "Interference With a Professional Sporting Event" is a good enough laugh all on its own.

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Analyzing Google Analytics

One of the coolest parts about starting a blog is being able to take a look at traffic patterns. Okay, maybe "cool" is the wrong word. How about interesting? That may work better. In any case, Google has a great traffic analyzing tool, Google Analytics, which breaks down website traffic to its smallest details.

For example, 62.5% of visitors are using Internet Explorer while only 32% are using Firefox. Internet Explorer users, let this blog do you a favor. Go download Firefox (there's a link over on the right sidebar, and if I positioned this right, it should be right next to this text) -- It has an integrated spell check in the browser (the coolest feature I've ever seen in any piece of technology), is great with pop-up ads, and is just an all around better product. There's no reason to use Internet Explorer with Firefox out there. I tried Firefox out around a year ago and I have never looked back.

Other stats are interesting too. In the past seven days, roughly 50% of my traffic has come from two sources: My Detroit Tigers Blog and Google searches. Another 12% from Michigan Live sports message boards. Only 4.56 from Digg, mostly from my most recent post on the subject.

Geographic location is also interesting. 87% from the US, but the 5% from Canada are welcome too (mostly from Ontario though, not Calgary, home of the Flames the Wings are currently battling in the NHL Playoffs). And welcome to the 0.26% of you visiting from Turkey.

How users search on Google to find the site was unexpected. Of the people searching on Google, 21% searched for Erin Burnett. The second biggest search item finding its way to my site, all the way down at 2.73% was "Erin Burnett CNBC". All these searches find my earlier post on how CNBC anchor Erin Burnett was underrated. And I continue to watch Street Signs (2:00-3:00 on CNBC) on a regular basis, and apparently, I'm not the only one. My post on the Las Vegas season finale is also very popular on Google searches. Luck of the draw on where you get placed in the rankings I guess.

Okay, enough of that. I'm off to Comerica Park this afternoon for what should be a great day of baseball. Let's hope the Tigers break out of their two-game slide. Then we've got Red Wings playoff hockey and Pistons playoff basketball. What a great time of year for Detroit sports.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wings - Flames Game IV

Well, that was an exciting first period, frustrating second period (thanks in large part to the officiating) and an equally upsetting third period (thanks in large part to the Wings anemic Power Play). And now we need to get ready for Game Five which will be a more important game than anybody likely thought going into this series. Oh, yeah, I should probably state the obvious. The Red Wings lost to the Calgary Flames in Game Three, 3-2, and the series heads back to Detroit tied at 2-2.

First, the positives. The first period was great. Sure, the Wings fell behind early, but we tied it up (twice) and ended the period tied. But both teams were energized, flying up and down the ice, and it was some great back and forth hockey. And Todd Bertuzzi showed why he is so valuable, scoring the first goal and being involved in the second goal as well (nice line juggling by head coach Mike Babcock). Beautiful goal by Bertuzzi too after a nice pass from Robert Lang. Obviously, the negative of the period was Dominik Hasek's boneheaded unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which led to a Flames 5 on 3 Power Play which led to the Flames first goal. No need for Dom to flop in that situation, and less reason for him to get frustrated, and out of his game, and start waving his stick at people. As Mickey Redmond said on the broadcast, he's a better goalie than that, he doesn't need to do something like taking a dive. Espeically when the Wings were shorthanded to begin with.

The second period continued the story of the last two games which was the Red Wings being unable to score on the Power Play while at the same time being unable to stop the Flames when they have the man (or two) advantage. The Flames took a 3-2 led when they had their second 5-on-3 Power Play of the game. It was their 6th Power Play goal of the series. The Red Wings, on the other hand, continued to struggle on the Power Play, looking completely lost on the ice, and being unable to get the kind of scoring chances they were getting in the first two games of the series. I don't know what happened when the Wings traveled to Canada, but they left their special teams at the border.

In the third period, it started off as much of the same. An early Power Play wasted. Lack of scoring chances. It looked like the Wings were going to lose 3-2 (or worse) and we'd be tied at two games each heading back to Detroit (and, forced to go back to Calgary for back-to-back Games 5 and 6 on Saturday and Sunday -- what just brutal travel as I've mentioned before). And that's exactaly what happened, as the Wings just couldn't get anything going, and lost 3-2.

The travel, I think, will be tougher on Detroit then on Calgary, and with the way Calgary has played at home, this very well may be going 7. It is just amazing what a different team is Calgary is when they are at home. They looked completely outmatched and out of sync in Detroit, but in Calgary, especially in Game Four, the Flames looked comfortable, and looked like the better team. I don't want to panic, but it's getting to that point.

And of course, I'm not the only Red Wings fan/blogger to be upset with the Wings horrendous Power Play and special teams in general. Plenty of other great Red Wings blogs you should be checking out (if you haven't been already) include Dave at Gorllia Couch, Matt at OnTheWings, Christy at Behind The Jersey, and the Abel to Yzerman blog over at Kulkas Korner (who was live-blogging the game). Did I miss your Red Wings playoff blog? E-mail me to let me know and we'll exchange links.

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Boston Red Sox Fan Hit With Pizza

Now here's some great video. It's times like these I love running a blog, because I can paste these videos and everyone can have a good laugh. Check out this clip from Youtube of the Boston Red Sox game from Monday. Some fans spilled their beers going after a foul ball, and another fan, apparently upset that someone would waste any alcohol (or, likely just upset the fans interfered with the play), took a pizza and tossed the pie at the offending fans. This is something neither I nor the Boston Globe, where I first saw the story, can make up. The video just speaks for itself.

Oh, and yesterday's story about the Phillie's manager Charlie Manuel challenging a reporter to a fight? That video is posted on that story as well.

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NBA Playoff Preview -- Detroit Pistons v. Orlando Magic

Welcome back Grant Hill and Darko, the Orlando Magic are coming to town. After last night's final NBA games of the regular season (and was it just me or did it seem seem like an extra long regular season?) the 2007 first round playoff matchups are set and the Detroit Pistons will battle an old foe, the Orlando Magic, in the first round.

While on its face the matchup looks favorable for the Pistons, and nobody expects Detroit to have much trouble with Orlando, the Pistons would be wise not to forget the lessons of 2004. The Pistons were the top seed in the Eastern Conference that season too, and they drew a young Orlando Magic team in the first round. Everyone thought it was going to be a cakewalk, and it almost was -- for the Magic. They jumped out to a 3-1 series lead, putting the Pistons on the brink of elimination, before the Pistons woke up, dusted themselves off, and won three straight, disposing the Magic in 7 games. While a full series will likely not be needed this year, if the Pistons take the Magic for granted, or look past them, we may see a repeat of 2003. Or, at the very least, Orlando is going to steal a game or two.

While the Pistons do have an edge over the Magic in practically every category, the Magic do have a lot of talent. Dwight Howard is quickly becoming one of the league's best young big men. He averaged 17.6 points and just over 12 rebounds a game, and is hungry to prove himself in the playoffs. And of course there's always the veteran leadership of a healthy Grant Hill, who, by the way, would look great closing out his career in a Pistons uniform if he chooses to leave Orlando as a free agent this off season. And of course there's Darko, who still has not lived up the hype, but at least showed signs of progress this season. And you know he wants to stick it to the Pistons if he could. But, he likely won't be a factor, and may not play due to an ankle injury.

As for the Pistons, their only real worry is themselves. Being too arrogant, cocky, and the risk of looking right past the Magic and into the next round and beyond. Chris Webber's addition has been a boost and knowing that his time to win a ring is running down, he'll be extra motivated now that he's this close to winning one. The Pistons sleptwalked their way through a number of regular season games, and that won't work in the playoffs, even against a team like Orlando. As my great Uncle Sam e-mailed me last week, The Pistons "can't wait until the last period of every game to turn it on, because teams like Chicago, Cleveland and especially Miami won't fold."

I think the Pistons will be hungry though, after not making it to the finals last season and losing to San Antonio in 2005. I think they realize that while getting to the NBA Finals won't be easy, with Miami struggling for most of the year, and LeBron not quite ready yet, this may be their best opportunity to make it back to the Finals. Pistons in 5 over the Magic.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel Challenges Reporter to Fight

There are times I love that Jim Leyland is the manager of the Detroit Tigers, and there are times I really love that Jim Leyland is the manager of the Detroit Tigers. Today it's the latter. Because I can see what life is like for some other baseball teams. Take the Philadelphia Phillies for example. Struggling out of the gate, the team has not lived up to expectations this season. So when the media questioned manager Charlie Manuel about his team's poor performances, what did he do? Challenge the media to a fight of course.

After the Phillies were drubbed 8-1 by the New York Mets on Tuesday night, manager Charlie Manuel blew his top in his office, letting loose with a profane tirade and challenging a talk show host -- identified by the Courier-Post newspaper of Cherry Hill, N.J., as WIP-AM personality Howard Eskin, a longtime critic of Manuel -- to a fight.

"I think they see me angry more than you think they do. I think you probably don't see me angry. I can show you I can get angry, if you want to," Manuel said, according to the Inquirer.

"Why don't you drop by my office? I'll be waiting on you. I'll be waiting on you. I'll walk down there right now," Manuel said, according to the Courier-Post.

"We're going to win!" Manuel could be heard yelling in his office, The Associated Press reported.

The above photo is from Philadelphia's NBC-10, which has both a slideshow and video of the confrontation. Good stuff. It shows Manuel going after the reporter a few different times having to be held back by security. Here's video of the confrontation from a YouTube posting.

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Detroit Red Wings - Calgary Flames Game III

I hate these late games. Nevermind the fact that the Detroit Red Wings belong in the Eastern Conference, where they can play Toronto on a more than a once a year basis. These late playoff games are brutal for fans and the travel is unfair to the Wings players. Anaheim. Los Angeles. Vancouver. Edmonton. Calgary. These 10:00 starts. Just exhausting. May as well be playing in Juneau.

Oh, you came here to read about the game, not listen to me whine about the time of the game? Okay then. Well, it was what I think most people expected. Calgary came out fired up in the first period and the crowd was jumping. And Detroit drew the first penalty, which may have been the best bet of the whole day. But, the Wings killed off the penalty, and got back into their game, and played the first period to a stalemate, which on the road, with how desperate Calgary was to win Game 3 to give themselves a semblance of a chance to comeback in the series, was a small victory.

The second period was also a stalemate, but at least it involved some scoring. Calgary opened the scoring, but Detroit's Kris Draper answered shortly thereafter, tying the game at 1-1, which was the score headed into the third period. And, then, suddenly, the fear of an overtime game hit me, as I realized that since it was 11:50 p.m. just as the second intermission began, if the game went into overtime, I probably shouldn't even bother going to bed.

Well, the third period, thought we had it there for a minute. Dan Cleary's huge hit leading to Kris Draper's second goal of the game, giving the Red Wings a 2-1 lead, I thought was going to be it. Sap the will of the Flames. But, they didn't quit, and scored two quick goals to take a 3-2 lead, which was the score when the game ended. The Red Wings first loss in the 2007 playoffs.

Game Four now becomes really critical. It will allow the Wings to wrap up the series in 5 games, and will avoid what would be a truly awful Game 5 and Game 6 on back-to-back nights in Detroit then Calgary (whoever scheduled that needs to either lose their job. I understand scheduling games around national television, but to force the Wings and Calgary to play back-to-back nights in cities almost 2,000 miles apart, is just cruel). Plus, it'll stop any momentum Calgary has from tonight's victory.

Other notes of interest? Todd Bertuzzi was back, and while he didn't make an immediate impact, once he gets his legs back under him, and starts playing the physical hockey we all know he is capable of, the Wings will obviously benefit.

In other Detroit sports news,the Tigers won tonight, in a game which they looked to have in hand, looked to have lost, then won again. Two quick observations from the game. First, this team never gives up. No lead is ever insurmountable, and even if the team falls behind and blows a lead, they battle back. They really have taken on the personalty of their manager, Jim Leyland, and that's great news. And secondly, Placido Polanco, what a player he is. Rod Allen said during a game last week that Polanco would win a batting title before all is said and done, and maybe he's right, but Polanco is a shoo-in for the 2007 All Star Game and is a hitting machine. He won them tonight's game and it won't be the only one he wins for the team this season.

And with that, I'm going to sleep. At least Thursday night's Red Wings game is at 9:30, giving me at least a half hour respite.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

So Far, So Good for Justin Verlander

Detroit Tigers pheonom reigning Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander pitched more innings in 2006 than he had practically his entire life up until that point. Well north of 200 total innings. It was such a jump that a lot of experts believed Verlander would suffer a sophomore slump in 2007. Not his fault, but when you throw that many innings when you are that young, it is only natural for it to catch up to you. Happened to many of the Chicago White Sox pitchers in 2006 after their World Series run in 2005 and they had more experience and many more innings on their arm then Verlander.

Verlander struggled at the start of Spring Training. The experts seemed like they may be right. Then the regular season started. Concerned? Not anymore.

Verlander may not have had his best stuff his first two starts, but, like a veteran, he battled, and he didn't give up an earned run in either of those starts. Sure, he may have walked a few batters, but he got outs when he needed them and for the most part looked like he did in 2006, if not better.

Monday night against Kansas City, Verlander was definitely better. He gave up his first three runs of the season but he also struck out six, walked none, and had his fastball moving. He mixed his pitches well, and was a force on the mound. I think we can put talk of a sophomore slump to bed, at least for now.

And the Tigers hit their third grand slam of the season, quite an accomplishment considering their bats have been quiet for the most part. And Jose Mesa continued to struggle giving up 2 runs, 2 hits (including a home run), and a walk while only retiring one batter. I think it's too early to pull the plug on Mesa, but that's a situation worth watching going forward.

Updated 4/17: The Detroit Tigers online community lost one of their own this week in the senseless tragedy at Virginia Tech. Brian Bluhm, a longtime Tigers fan, and frequent contributer to the Tigers message board, and most other Detroit Tigers online forums, was one of the victims in Monday's attacks. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends, as they do to all of the victims. The Detroit Tigers are planning a moment of silence at Tuesday's game, and more tributes may be coming as well. Many in the Tigers on-line community who knew Brian have posted their thoughts. You can read them here (thanks to Ian over at Bless You Boys for the list of tributes):

●  The Detroit Tigers Weblog

●  Mack Avenue Tigers

●  Tiger Tales

●  Bless You Boys

●  Two posts at Minor League Ball

●  Motown Sports

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Top Five Television Shows to Save for Next Season

With the 2006-2007 television season nearing an end, shows getting closer to May sweeps and the inevitable shocking twists around the corner, it is time to consider what the future may hold for the 2007-2008 television season. What follows is a list of the top five shows I think deserve to come back next season. Some of these shows are on the fence, some are likely safe, and at least one is all but dead. But, they are five solid shows, and here's why each should return next season.

5. 1 vs 100, NBC: Yes, the list starts off with a game show. But an addicting one. As Marc Berman, ratings guru over at Mediaweek, continually pointed out, the show picked up quality ratings on Friday nights (a tough night for any show to get great ratings) and it is much improved from its debut. Sure, its questions are a bit cheesy, but Bob Saget is a really good host, and I love the concept.

4. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, NBC: Sure, the show has been very disappointing. It has Aaron Sorkin, genius behind A Few Good Men, The American President, Sports Night, and of course, The West Wing. It had the best actor from The West Wing (Brad Whitford), the best actor from Friends (Matthew Perry) and a tremendous overall cast. It never really worked though. And the ratings are anemic. Yet, even though there is practically no chance it returns next season, I think ti should. There is too much talent there, both from an acting and writing perspective, for the show to stay bad for very long.

I'll have a full post on just why Studio 60 failed after NBC officially cancels it (because I do have my theories) but hopefully we can put that off at least another season. Because I really do think that if Aaron Sorkin gets a second chance, he won't let the pitch go by.

3.) Jericho, CBS: I've had a lot of mixed feelings on Jericho. When I watched the pilot this summer, before the television season had started, I didn't like it. Especially compared to the great opening outings from ABC's The Nine (was wrong on that one) and the aforementioned Studio 60 (ditto) which I thought were destined to be hits. The idea was an interesting one. How a small town would function in the shadow of a nuclear attack on U.S. soil, detached from all outside contact with the world (and, as the show quickly added, without electricity). I didn't like the pilot because it was just so depressing. Depressing subject matter. Depressing pilot episode. But, I gave it a shot at the start of the season, and I was hooked. The show was well acted, the stories were well told, and the characters were compelling. Especially the character of Robert Hawkins, played by Lennie James. You just wanted to know what he was up to, whether he worked for the government trying to stop the bombs from going off, or whether he was one of the attack's masterminds. Last week's episode seemed to answer that question (he was working for the government after all, or, at least he thinks he was) and how the season has unfolded has been great television. Interestingly, the ratings tell a different story. While at the start of the year, Jericho was one of the highest rated new fall shows, it has subsequently dropped off the map, perhaps proving my initial inclinations of the show's dark nature. Even with the ratings slide, though, the show should come back for a second go-around, and hopefully, in so doing, we'll learn a bit more about what has been going on in the outside world, outside the confines of Jericho, Kansas.

2. How I Met Your Mother, CBS: I'm not ashamed to admit I like the show fans call HIMYM. And, coincidentally (or not), it's the second time Bob Saget makes the list (he's the narrator on the show). HIMYM is practically the only comedy I watch (aside, of course, from Seinfield repeats) but that's probably more a function of the sad state of television comedies than anything. And that slowdown in great comedies is exactly why HIMYM needs to stick around. It's wickedly smart, Niel Patrick Harris has mastered the art of being obnoxious without being annoying and while being funny (a rare accomplishment), and how can you not be a big fan of Cobie Smulders, who plays Robin?

Plus, we haven't met Ted's future wife yet, so to cancel the show, without explaining, well, "How I Met Your Mother" just wouldn't be right. And while it may not get the ratings of other comedies, like the incredibly overrated Rules of Engagement (why again do people think David Spade is funny?) it's funnier, and that should count for something.

1. Friday Night Lights, NBC: And last but certainly not least is Friday Night Lights. Just a great show. And according to Kristen at E-Online, a second season looks very good right now for Friday Night Lights.
"Absolutely," coach Kyle Chandler said, when asked about the prospects of a second season. "I have no doubt."

The cast has good reason for positive thinking. They'd just received word that NBC ordered six more scripts of Friday Night Lights for next season. And while that's not a full, 22-episode season yet, it's obviously a step in the right direction. "The script order is a show of goodwill from the studio saying that they are still really interested in the show, and they want to see what the breaking stories look like," Scott explained. "And hopefully, they bring us back. We wanna be around for a very long time."

And I'll be honest, while I really liked the first few episodes of the season, and quickly became a big Minka Kelly fan, and have been a Kyle Chandler fan since his Early Edition show on CBS some years back, I have not watched regularly this season. I want to make up for that next year when the show is renewed, and hopefully catch up this summer if and when the show is released on DVD. The book was phenomenal, the movie was great, ad the TV show, from what I've seen, and from what everyone else who has seen the show says, is just as good. And I want a chance next year to make up for my mistake in not watching as regularly as I should this season, and I feel like I am not the only TV viewer to feel that way.

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Lessons Learned From

I had never heard of the website until about a month or so ago. My good-buddy-pal (as Jim Cramer would say) Kurt, over at Clever WoT, wrote a great editorial/blogpost about why the television show LOST was "Lost". It was a great look at the TV show, and some 2,200 people "Digg"'d it. I inquired about what Digg was about. Now, a month later, most of my stories "buried" by Digg users (as in, the opposite of Digging, as in, not good) I've learned some valuable lessons, which hopefully I can pass on to other new bloggers so they don't make the same mistakes I did.

For those unfamiliar, Digg is a social networking site where users submit news, blogposts, videos, ect. and they get voted on by Digg users. The Digg button that was on a bunch of my posts (first near the top, now at the bottom when I use it) displays how many people "Digg" your story. The more the better, and at some point, a critical mass is reached, your post becomes popular, and you reach the homepage. Nirvana for bloggers, or something like that.

When I first started this blog a month ago, I figured Digg was a pretty cool site. I signed up, and immediately started posting all my blog posts there. As I learned in hindsight, that was a mistake. Part of it was my fault, I wanted to try to get some exposure to the blog, and my posts, and Digg seemed like a great way to do it. Part of it was I couldn't figure out how to get the Digg button to work with Blogger and the only way I figured how to do so was to submit my story to Digg first, then link to it a link-field in my Blogger post. So if I wanted a story to even have a chance of being submitted, I had to do it myself. Another big mistake.

So, after posting most of my blogposts on Digg for the last month, in the last week, some of my new posts would soon vanish. Apparently, the Digg establishment were none too pleased that I submitted so many stories, and were using the "Bury" feature to make my stories disappear. Just as you can be made "popular" with the "Digg" feature, you can be made to go away by using the "Bury" feature. I'm on the wrong side of that line at the moment. Why? Well, because everyone on Digg likes list, here's 5 reasons why I'm likely being buried, and 5 lessons learned which new bloggers can take to heart if they ever use Digg.

5. Pick a smart Digg user-name: Since learning about Digg and doing some research, I never saw this suggestion, but I think it's an important one. I picked "swarheit" because that's well, my name, and my normal screen name on most things. It also happens to be the address to my blog ( I'm thinking now that was a bad idea. It makes all of my posts look like spam (swarheit is submitting a story from swarheit.blogspot) and that isn't good. Even people that do post their own stories, probably do a better job of hiding that it's them doing it through a clever user-name. I was not that smart, and that was a mistake.

4. Be first, and don't be late: While Digg may stop multiple sources from posting the same story from the same address, if you are posting a comment about a story in the news, and the story is from your own blog, it'll go up. And it'll either get passed over because you've missed the "first filing" of the story or because it'll look like spam. I thought posting commentaries on the Don Imus situation, some campaign stuff, would be good and interesting. And I thought they were well written. But by the time I got them posted, there were already lots of Digg stories about them, and I looked very late to a party I wasn't invited to in the first place.

3. Smart Headlines: I was not good at this at the start, and by the time I got good, it was too late. I was being buried. Kurt's Why "Lost" is Lost was a terrific attention grabbing headline. "Latest on the Detroit Tigers and Michigan's Basketball Coaching Search" or "NBC's Las Vegas Turns to Magnum PI, Tom Selleck to Replace James Caan" or "Andrew Miller Time for the Tigers? And More Postponements for the Indians" don't work. Way too long. Complicated. Unfunny. Unclever. They don't work. When I've had success with Digg (and when I say "sucess", I mean, "not being buried") my headlines have been better. "Snow Delays? Major League Baseball Needs a New Schedule", "Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Make Noise on Fox News", and "Detroit Lions Off-Season Scorecard -- So Far". Simpler. To the point. Somewhat clever (well, maybe not that last one). There's a reason why headlines are so important in newspapers.

2 and 1. DO NOT submit every story to Digg (So important it deserves two spots): My biggest mistake. Submitting everything to Digg. Too many unnecessary stories that nobody on Digg was going to care about. Too many posts from "swarheit" plugging stories from "". Just too much. The Digg folks don't like people plugging their own blog multiple times a day, it doesn't matter how interesting your stories are, or what the topic is. I think in the past few days, people just saw my posts and buried them without ever looking at the content. I don't blame them. I realize now Digg is not the place to post every Blogpost. I just didn't know that a month ago when I started. You have to pick and choose, not submit too many, and see what happens. It's a lesson hopefully I've learned (though, maybe not since I'm submitting this story to Digg. Likely my last in a while).

Have users heard some (or most) of these suggestions before? Probably. But, if you are a new blogger, and hadn't heard of Digg, or just started using it, like I did, hopefully the lessons I've learned will be of some help. Or maybe not. Depends on if anybody sees this story of it is "buried" like the rest of them.

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