Thursday, November 29, 2007


Sorry for the title.

Lloyd Carr is unquestionably a loyal man. Loyal to his friends, his players, his athletic director. This is a good thing, generally. Unfortunately, his loyalty to Mike DeBord was misplaced and ended up tarnishing his legacy. Mike DeBord may be a good person, a worthwhile friend, but he was not a good offensive coordinator for Michigan, especially not the last couple of years.

In the end, Lloyd Carr was loyal to a bunch of relatively weak assistant coaches. Debord is the most obvious example, but Fred Jackson (running backs coach and "Associate Head Coach"-huh?) has been on the staff forever. Weak assistant coaches are death in college (or pro) football.

In contrast with Lloyd, Bo Schembechler had tons of very strong assistant coaches. Numerous of his assistants later went on to be successful head coaches at the top level: Don Nehlen at West Virginia, Bill McCartney at Colorado, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr at Michigan, Cam Cameron of Indiana and the Dolphins, and these are just the ones off the top of my head. Oh, and Les Miles too....

Unfortunately, Lloyd'd assistant coaches just weren't as good. He's obviously not the first person to let personal loyalty overshadow incompetence. But it's a shame that it will impact his legacy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Baseball players are not, generally speaking, deep thinkers. Regardless of their intelligence, success in baseball requires a short memory. This is a roundabout way of saying that it's not often that one looks to baseball players for commentary on current events. Every now and again, though, they surprise me. David Ortiz said the following:

It's like they've placed that issue on the same level as Iraq. It doesn't make sense to hear people talk more about whether Barry Bonds used steroids than about people dying in Iraq.

Well said, Papi. Hope the knee heals quickly!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Missouri-West Virginia

That sounds like a depressing national championship game, no? I'm sure the NCAA and its advertisers would prefer that these two teams lose next week and the #3 (Ohio State) and #4 (Georgia) teams move ahead of them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mike Lowell Returns!

And I'm happy. Especially happy this is a three year deal. With some obvious exceptions, the Sox have been disciplined about not signing guys to overlong contracts. As I've said before, not signing Pedro (59 starts the last three years) to a four year contract was a great call.

I doubt Lowell will be as good as he was last year. Last year his numbers were in line with his 2003 and 2004 seasons, but he'll probably regress. Hopefully he'll regress slowly, and they'll get decent production out of him the next couple of years.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not what Michigan is looking for

As I mentioned yesterday, Lloyd Carr was an unusual football coach with his erudition and wide range of interests.

I think that perhaps Nick Saban is more typical. After Alabama lost to Louisiana-Monroe (!), he said:

Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event. It may be 9-11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event.

Well that's embarrassing. Not only is it offensive, but also ignorant, "Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II"? What is he talking about?

When Michigan's Athletic Director says: "I want to know how many driving-under-the-influence (citations) a potential coach has had. I want to know if he's a deadbeat in terms of paying his bills. I want to know anything that is a pattern in terms of past behavior that could be an embarrassment to Michigan", this is what he's talking about. Ugh.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More on Carr

Video of his last press conference is here.

The press conference showed all of his great qualities. He started by reciting a poem (?):

By your own soul, learn to live
And if men thwart you take no heed.
If men hate you have no care.
Sing your song, dream your dream,
Hope your hope and pray your prayer.

That's, uhhh, Pakenham Beatty, who's obscure enough that he doesn't have a page on Wikipedia.

I'm not an expert on college football coaches, but I doubt that many of them spend much time reading poetry. I also read that he has a dictionary outside his office, and before they come talk to him, his players have to learn a word and discuss it with him. Again, something tells me that's not exactly the norm among his peer coaches.

Maybe he's a bit of an anachronism, but at least he's anachronistic in the right ways. I haven't always been happy with his decisions on the football field, but I can't remember him *ever* embarrassing the university.

It's a lot more fun to remember his successes. I doubt I will ever have as much fun at a footbal game as I had watching #1 Michigan beat #4 Ohio State in 1997. Nor do I ever expect to see a college football team play as well at #4 Michigan played against #1 Penn State (in State College) that same year. That Penn State game was ridiculous. How often is the #1 team in the country down 31-0 at home in the third quarter?

I'm happy for him. Maybe he held on a year too long, but when you win a national championship, run a clean program, and make your players learn new words, I think you're entitled to hang on a year too long.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lloyd Carr

I was at the Rose Bowl last year when Michigan played USC.

USC won 32-18, but it was 3-3 at halftime, and Michigan would have been ahead but for a bad pass by Chad Henne.

When it became clear that USC couldn't run the ball, their coaches made an adjustment, changed their game plan, threw the ball every down, and broke the game open. That's worth emphasizing. They won the game by throwing out their gameplan and changing.

I think Lloyd Carr is almost a brilliant football coach. He runs a clean program, rarely has a down year, and recruits great players. His only problem, the thing that prevents him from actually being a great football coach, is his stubbornness. I can't remember a game where Michigan made an adjustment mid game and changed their game plan. Never!

His stubbornness also manifests itself in his assistant coaches. Mike Debord has been the offensive coordinator for years, except for a few years when he was a mediocre head coach at Central Michigan. He's not getting the job done, but Lloyd Carr is fanatically loyal to his people.

All of which is a way of saying that it's time for Carr to go. There is a lot to like about him, but his stubborn nature means that he cannot or will not change. If he had brought in an innovative offensive coordinator a couple of years ago, he might well remain at Michigan. Not anymore. There's a time to say enough is enough, and this is that time.

Bring on Les Miles!

Friday, November 16, 2007


Barry Bonds was indicted yesterday in federal court for lying.

It's worth noting that when he gave his grand jury testimony, he was granted immunity (paragraph 8). So if he'd told the truth, he was immune from prosecution for buying any illegal drugs/steroids/whatever. Of course, if he'd told the truth, he would be in trouble with baseball, the Giants, and perhaps to the two people he really cares about: his dad and Willie Mays.

As for the evidence, paragraph 9 is the unobtrusive hammer:

During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds.

So they must have found positive test results for him.

What does it mean?

I don't know. One could certainly argue that he deserves to be sentenced to community service. This isn't exactly the biggest problem facing this country right now.

On the other hand, the feds may try to make an example of him. Martha Stewart served six months in the Big House for lying about a sale of stock worth $50,000. The feds don't like it when you lie to them. If they do insist on prison, it will have to be a short term. Six months at most.

Why did he lie?

I don't know. Somehow Bonds, who grew up in wealth and privilege the rest of us can barely imagine, has managed to create a worldview where he is the persecuted one. This has been very effective for him--I think it has actually fueled much of his success on the field. But it's not so effective when one is under oath to a grand jury.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

C.C. Sabathia

Sabathia won the Cy Young, followed by Beckett, Lackey, and Carmona. I'm happy the Baseball Writers' Association of America are finally listening to me. Sign me up!

Sabathia deserved it.

However, I couldn't help but note the following, from

The 6-foot-7, 290-pound left-hander is the first black pitcher to win a Cy Young Award since Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in 1985 -- and the first in the AL since Oakland's Vida Blue in 1971.

This is a shocking statistic.

It would be more shocking if it were true (or relevant!). The last several Cy Young award winners in the American League are:

2007: Sabathia
2006: Johan Santana
2005: Bartolo Colon
2004: Santana
2003: Roy Halladay
2002: Barry Zito
2001: Roger Clemens (undeserved)
2000: Pedro Martinez
1999: Martinez

So out of the last nine Cy Young winners in the American League, three are white. I recognize that whoever wrote the article apparently believes that baseball players fall into one of the following four categories: black, white, Hispanic, asian (a new innovation). But still. Even the US Census recognizes that "Hispanic" is a cultural term. If one insisted on classifying them based on their ultimate ancestry, Martinez, Sabathia, Colon and Santana are more "from" Africa than anywhere else.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Michigan's loss to Wisconsin yesterday was a microcosm of the entire season. We were way down, made a comeback to make things interesting and give the fans some hope that the team might not be as bad as everyone feared, but in the end the team turned out to be that bad after all.

I don't think Michigan has a chance against Ohio State, which is like Wisconsin, but faster. Fortunately, I stopped caring about the season months ago, so my disappointment will not be surprising.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Curt Schilling is, by all accounts, a loudmouth. By many accounts, he is also a jerk. However, I'm happy he's coming back with the Sox for one more year.

I do not subscribe to the notion that the Sox "owe" it to him to bring him back. They've already paid him tens of millions of dollars, so I don't think they owe him anything. But this is a good contract. I think he'll make every "weigh in", earning himself another $2 million, so really it's a $10 million base with $3 million bonuses for innings pitched (his 151 innings last year would result in a $1.125 million bonus).

His numbers are in decline, but hopefully he's got a "crafty veteran" year in him. I don't think he'll convert to a total junkballer, but I don't think he's going to overpower anybody either. I think he's smart enough to know that he's a borderline Hall of Famer. Ten more wins and another good postseason would certainly help push him over the threshhold.

That makes the rotation Beckett, Matsuzaka, Schilling, Lester, Wakefield, and Clay Buchholz. It's won't be a six man rotation. Last year, these six guys made, respectively, 30, 32, 24, 11, 31, and 3 starts. Lester and Buchholz will get more starts; Wakefield will probably have fewer; Schilling, Matsuzaka and Beckett about the same.

Not a bad rotation. Of course, I said the same thing two years ago and consider how that turned out.....

Sunday, November 04, 2007