Monday, June 11, 2007

A Couple Offseason Comments

Neither of these items are all that new, but I've been out for a little while so I didn't get a chance to comment when they became public.

The Schedule: Michigan released their 2007-08 schedule and...well...ouch. Kicking off the season against Boston College and then Minnesota or RPI might not be the best way for a young team with a shaky situation in net to get started. Then again, the BC game a couple years back was quite possibly Billy Sauer's finest moment as a Wolverine. Worst case scenario is that we lose to BC and Minnesota plays their typical game against an inferior opponent and loses to RPI, setting us up to give up 12 the next night and start 0-2.

Red has talked before about how he likes to get a road trip out of the way early when he has a young team, so they can bond. He's gonna get his wish. 6 of our first 8 and 8 of our first 12 are on the road, and they're all fairly lengthy trips (Minnesota, Marquette, Nebraska, Sault Ste. Marie). Then we come home to play Wisconsin and Minnesota.

We could be in for a really ugly start to the season if they don't get the defense/goaltending situation figured out in a hurry. At least the home games are spread out this year. Another plus: the game against the NTDP is the only Tuesday game this year. None of that 6 games in 11 days crap.

I'm curious to see how many games I'll be able to get on TV in Madison. I've got ESPNU, CSTV, and all the Fox Sports channels, so I have to believe there'll be quite a few. Count on a lot of live-blogging this year, since I won't be at the games (for the most part).

Eventually I'll break it down and make a WAG at a record for next year. I ran through it in my head really quickly and came out at 22-14, 19-9 in the CCHA, but that puts us ahead of our point total last year in conference so I want to revamp things a tad. That'll have to wait for another day.

Pio Is Gone: The other thing that needs to be commented on: As Mike Spath brought to our attention, Steve Piotrowski has stepped out of the rink to become the CCHA's Director of Officials. As much as I hated seeing him 3 or 4 years ago, I'm sorry to see him go. He was the one guy that the CCHA could put out there who I truly felt knew what he was doing. Sure he'd screw ya sometimes, but by and large he called a pretty good game. His departure leaves the CCHA in a sorry state as far as officials go.

Who would you even consider to be the CCHA's best official at this point? It's gotta be Kevin Hall or Mark (gulp) Wilkens now doesn't it? Last year convinced me that Matt Shegos belongs nowhere near the top of that list. Brian Aaron is a flippin' moron. Steve McInchak doesn't have a clue. The games Scott Hoberg called were a complete disaster. The first game Barry Pochmara called at Michigan was a good one, but he threw it away the next night. Then you've got Sergott, Kotyra, Lisko, and Murphy who don't usually do our games so I can't comment. I've never liked Hall, but he just might be at the top now. And with Wilkens, at least you know that the incompetence will be consistent. You're both getting 5 on 3s. There'll be a stream of players to the box. Deal with it.

Unfortunately, based on his hometown on Clinton Township, MI, I have to believe this means Michigan fans will be seeing a lot more of Scott Hoberg next year. We got Pio an awful lot, and at least part of that had to be due to the fact that Yost is the closest arena to Troy, MI. Clinton Twp. is out that way as well. I wonder if the Sun-Belt has anyone they aren't using......

The Bottom Line: I had to edit this post to add in one more comment. I was watching the IRL's Bombardier 550 from Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. The race was on tape delay by a half an hour, which I actually was unaware of at the time.

It was a great race. Lots of wheel-to-wheel action, an incredible camera shot out of Tony Kanaan's onboard camera when he threaded the needle between a spinning car and a loose tire, and in the closing laps Kanaan (my favorite driver in the series) was closing in on Sam Hornish Jr. (Who I happen to really dislike) for the lead of the race. Then, with about 15 laps remaining, what do I see crawl across the bottom line during the race telecast? "Sam Hornish Jr. wins the Indy Racing League's Bombardier 550 at Texas Motor Speedway"

Are you fucking kidding me, ESPN?

Since I was flying through the race on my DVR, I actually had a giant WTF moment until I realized that No Tim, it's not possible for the bottom line to have updated during your taped race. It was only at that moment that I even realized the race was on tape delay.

Seriously though, if it's a game being shown on tape delay on another network, and I just happen to stumble upon the score when I'm flipping channels at commercial, then shame on me. But there is absolutely no reason that I should see the results of the event that I'm watching on the bottom line, when you're showing the original telecast of the event.

It completely spoiled the end of what turned out to be an excellent finish. I had no interest in watching the last 15 laps after I knew what was going to happen. What made it especially infuriating was that this is at least the third time this has happened during an ESPN tape delayed event. It's inexcusable. And it's too bad, because ESPN's telecasts of auto races are typically very good, IMO.

While I'm complaining about ESPN, let me yell at Barry Larkin for a minute. After Gary Thorne went specifically out of his way to NOT say the words "No hitter" at the top of the ninth inning ("Look at the top line. That's all I'm going to say."), Larkin proceeded to say it roughly 17 times in the next 3 minutes. And he went to MICHIGAN! He should know better. I'm surprised he didn't go all the way and put a ladder above our dugout exit, and throw a black cat in front of Putnam.

How much of a heartbreaker was it to lose that game though? To give up one hit--a single to boot--and come away with a LOSS? Ugh. You had to know that was coming though, when Michigan kept failing to capitalize on opportunities. Once that first guy in the top of the 9th walked, I was pretty sure we were going to lose. By the way, did you know that the guy who drove in the winning run was ALSO the guy that stopped that throw at first base that was headed into right field?! I think he also boxes in the offseason and is dating Brady Quinn.

My favorite past-time during our game was to glance up into the upper-right hand corner to see if Oklahoma State was changing pitchers again in their game against Louisville. I swear that it said "Pitching Chg" more often than it was indicating there was action going on in the game. 20-2? In an elimination game? At least they came to play for that one! That game started at the same time Michigan's game did. When our game ended, Louisville was batting in the bottom of the 5th.

Also, if you think Oregon State's field turf baselines are weird, you should've seen the UCI/Wichita State game. The Shockers have an Astroturf infield, grass outfield. I'm really not sure how that came about. Or how people don't fall....

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