Monday, May 30, 2011
It's official. On this Memorial day morning, Jim Tressel handed in his letter of resignation to school President E. Gordon Gee. This is a complete reversal from March 8, when Tressel said he never considered resigning. However, it had to happen. Tressel knew of his players selling memorabilia and autographs for tattoos before the 2010-11 season. Yet he allowed them to play the whole season, even though he knew their eligibility had been compromised. Then, when asked about it by the NCAA in December whether he knew of these actions, he lied and said no. The cover-up was the final nail in the coffin. How does this impact Michigan? Well, obviously Tressel meant a lot to the Buckeyes, as he was 9-1 against the Wolverines in "The Game." It will be interesting to see where OSU goes from here. They've already said that they will search for a new replacement after the upcoming 2011-12 season, where current assistant coach Luke Fickell will lead the program. No one knows what this season will bring for the Buckeyes, as they will be without their starting QB and RB, as well as some others, for the first five games of the season (admittedly, the very weak non-conference slate. They return when the Big Ten season begins). Will there be players who transfer? Will any other revelations come out? And what will the NCAA meeting in August do to OSU? OSU could very well have wins vacated, be put on probation, and lose scholarships. Or, none of that could happen. But either way, an era has ended in Columbus, and now no one knows what will happen next.
I figured this could last at least two weeks. The next few Mondays I'll be traveling, so this is the last you'll hear from me for a while. Maybe somebody else will pick up the slack and throw something on the blog while I'm gone.
Arctic Monkeys - Library Pictures
The new Arctic Monkeys album is really good - certainly better than their last album, and in my estimation, better than their sophomore effort as well. This is one of the shorter, faster paced tracks on the LP, but the whole thing is worth a listen. It's streaming online here.
I've listened to a lot of other new music recently, including efforts from Bon Iver, The Vaccines, Givers, and Battles, but nothing has really captivated me, besides perhaps the new Bon Iver. It's not so easy finding new music you love every week.
The big buzz this past weekend was about the release of the Hangover II. I wasn't particularly blown away by the first edition, but it was funny enough, and so I watched the second installment with moderately high expectations. II is, and you'll hear this 100 times, the exact same movie in a different setting, and how you interact with this fact will color your viewing experience. Accept that it's the same movie again, remember that you enjoyed it the first time, and you'll have a pleasant enough time with the second. There are some classic Alan lines, and I laughed out loud more frequently than I did during the first movie, so there's that. All in all, worth a look.
The summer means your favorite shows are going on hiatus, but one you should be watching that will kick off a new season on June 23 is Louie, on FX. I don't know how it took me so long to get around to watching Louis C.K.'s show, but I watched the first season in a couple days, and it's really good. C.K. is hilarious, and a good third of each episode is just him doing standup, which is what he's known for and best at. The rest of the show plays on a down and out Dad theme, and as a sucker for self-deprecating humor, I'm a fan. You've got three weeks to watch the first season before the premiere of the second.
I hope everyone watched the UEFA Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United on Saturday afternoon (evening for me). Because it was dazzling. Barcelona dominated much of the first half but saw the score level at 1 after a glorious strike from Wayne Rooney. Barca came out and completely dominated the second half, and we were treated to some Lionel Messi magic. This will be at least the third place I say it, but it has been a privilege to watch Lionel Messi play football, and I will not soon forget this Barcelona team. After they shredded Arsenal in a much-mocked match in an earlier leg of the Champions League, I have to say I was rather pleased to see United suffer a similar, albeit less embarrassing fate. This Barcelona side will go down as one of the all-time great teams Europe has ever seen, and it's pretty special that we get to watch them. Highlights here, but sure to disappear soon.
The big story yesterday was the FINAL TURN collapse of rookie J.R. Hildebrand at the Indianapolis 500. I didn't see it live, so I know I've missed out on that special quality of watching it as it happened, but it's one of the most incredible things you'll ever see in sports.
There's just something special about live sports, and the sense that ANYTHING can happen and you could be witnessing history. I remember watching a bowling event earlier this year, and one guy had the championship all but sewn up, but inexplicably CRATERED on the last throw and lost. It was bowling, but my jaw was on the floor. Through the magic of the internet, here it is. Relevant portion around 9:20.
The NBA finals start tomorrow night, pitting Dirk and the Mavericks against the Miami Heat and its trio of stars. Better people than myself will preview this somewhere else, I'm sure. I just cannot get into the NBA playoffs. Dirk is a compelling story with his playoff feats, but I don't understand how anyone could be genuinely interested in the Heat. I don't like any of their larger than life superstars, and could not care less about whether or not they win rings. The nature of basketball - that one player can completely dominate a game - turns me off to it, especially in the star-driven league that is the NBA. Spare me the egos and theatrics, please.
Wednesday, however, brings us the Stanley Cup finals, pitting the Vancouver Canucks against the Boston Bruins. I'll be shocked if Lord Stanley's Cup doesn't belong to Vancouver at the end of this series - the Sedins are too good, and the Canucks roll too much depth for the Bruins to handle. Tim Thomas will have to be huge for the Bruins to have any chance, and I suspect Roberto Luongo will be equal to the task in net for Vancouver. This should be a fun one to watch on NBC, as long as Pierre's time is as limited as possible.
The biggest news of the past week was perhaps the worst kept secret in the Michigan sports world - that Michigan men's lacrosse would be making the jump to D-1 next season, with women's lacrosse to follow in 2012-13. Details here in the MGoBlue roundup. It's extremely exciting to be the first team in 30 years to make the jump to D-1 lacrosse, and Michigan's dominant varsity club side finally moves up to the top level. The next couple seasons expect Michigan to play in a hodgepodge of venues, but you can be sure that Dave Brandon is crafting a plan for a dedicated lacrosse facility to compete with the best in the nation. For an introduction to the team, watch this series of video blogs.
WCBN hopes to broadcast Michigan men's lacrosse next season when the facilities afford us a steady internet connection and power source.
That's going to do it for now. Thanks for reading, hope to see you again soon!
Monday, May 23, 2011
This is probably a one-off that I'm passing off as the start of something grander to legitimize not studying for my last exam of 2011 over here in the Netherlands, but it's fun to dream. I'm well aware that the field of sports + pop culture combo blogging is quite crowded, but its crowded because it's kind of fun. This will almost certainly be a summer-only feature, and we'll switch back to a sports-only format once we have Michigan athletics to broadcast again. For now, bookmark this right next to your Simmons and Deadspin tabs.
Summer is either upon us or right around the corner, and there has always been a distinct "summer" style of music that I really enjoy. It's light, breezy, and jangly, and two new releases from hotly tipped bands have finally hit the interwebs.
First up is Cults' eponymously titled debut album, due May 31st, streaming exclusively via NPR. You can find it here. I just caught Cults in Amsterdam and they were really good, and this album starts as strong as any I've listened to all year. It's pleasant pop music for a pleasant summer. Here's the third track, "You Know What I Mean," which was a stunner live.
The much anticipated new album from Atlanta punks Black Lips, Arabia Mountain, has made its way to the internet ahead of its June 7 release date, and on first listen it sounds like all the concerns fans had about new producer Mark Ronson were unfounded. Perhaps slightly more sedate than their past albums, Arabia Mountain is still sure to be one of the most talked about albums of 2011. Here's a sample.
The only band whose album has actually already come out, Explosions in the Sky returned in 2011 with Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. The album is more of the same from the Austin-based band, which is to say atmospheric, soaring rock void of vocals. The result can be chilling if you're patient enough with the songs.
If that sound is familiar, it's because EITS provided much of the music for both the movie and TV versions of Friday Night Lights, which leads me to my next segment...
Everyone is watching Friday Night Lights on NBC, right? Because it's an incredible show, and in basically every way the best. Much more than a football drama (it doesn't hurt to be a football fan), this show captures human relationships better than any show I've ever watched, and it is a wholly engrossing viewing experience. The fifth (and final) season aired last fall on DirecTV, and NBC is in the middle of the fifth season now (Friday nights, 8 pm ET). Seriously, if you haven't already, do yourself the favor and start from the beginning and grow with this series. You couldn't ask for a better series. You'll find yourself wishing Michigan could hire Coach Eric Taylor to be a QB coach or something, I promise. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose. Here's an introduction for the uninitiated.
I won't get into more TV for now, as most shows I watch have wrapped up their seasons, but everyone should be doing their best to stay up to date with Parks and Recreation.
Finally, Vulture brings us a handy guide to summer movies in a form most of you should find familiar: F, Marry, Kill: The Summer Movie Edition. It's full of great looking movies to be released this Summer, but perhaps the most important revelation is that there is going to be a 4th Spy Kids movie! I loved the first one, when I was 11, but the last two weren't worth watching. I won't bother posting all the trailers that look good, but suffice it to say I will certainly be seeing Harry Potter, The Debt, and 30 Minutes or Less in theaters.
Here's the trailer for 30 Minutes or Less, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, and Danny McBride - a dream team of sorts. Be warned the trailer is NSFW.
There are some really great looking documentaries included in that lineup, which should serve as a reminder to take full advantage of the Michigan Theater's summer documentary series running June-August! Their Facebook page has all the details. A personal suggestion? Blood Into Wine, a documentary about Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan's winery operation, featuring a whole slew of comedians, musicians, and actors.
Novak Djokovic's amazing start to 2011 continues as the French Open gets underway at Roland Garros. Djoko is now 38-0 to start the year and chasing all kinds of history. Rafael Nadal has owned the clay in Paris for quite some time now, but Djokovic could be on target to knock Nadal off and claim his first French Open title. S.L. Price wrote a great piece in the latest Sports Illustrated that's worth your time. Find it here.
Michigan alum and benefactor Fred Wilpon is in the news again, this time for criticizing stars Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran in the midst of the Mets' on and off the field struggles. He doesn't say anything particularly wrong, but the candor is unusual. It appears that all three stars are in play for moves elsewhere.
Last night Joakim Noah became the second high profile player caught on TV dropping a homophobic slur, and while he quickly apologized, it will always come off as hollow. The NBA will almost certainly levy a fine like they did against Kobe Bryant, but none of this addresses the larger problem that homophobic slurs are a popular component of jock culture. With the recent news that Suns CEO Rick Welts is openly gay, the issue of homophobia in the NBA and in sports culture at large has been brought to the forefront, where it should be addressed candidly. It's time to hold athletes to a standard of basic human decency, and Steve Nash appears to be leading the pack.
Though Lance Armstrong has been dogged by doping allegations his entire career in a sport notorious for widespread doping, some of the strongest allegations yet have emerged from former teammates Tyler Hamilton and George Hincappie. 60 Minutes has the video report. Lance has always enjoyed a strong defense from sports fans and the American media, and it will be interesting to see whether these overwhelmingly damning allegations can finally tarnish his record-setting image. I've always found myself rooting for Armstrong and dismissing doping rumors as the work of the jealous French, but now we're forced to confront whether former American teammates would lie about Armstrong using illegal substances.
Chelsea F.C. fired respected manager Carlo Ancelotti yesterday, despite finishing second in the English Premier League, and winning the league in 2009-10. Roman Abramovich is a madman. Meanwhile, my Arsenal limped to a pathetic finish in the EPL, going from in the running for four trophies to fourth place in the EPL in a mere couple of months. So is the wild world of international football.
Revenue sports are done for the year, and football recruiting will be the subject of dedicated posts throughout the summer. If you've been paying attention at all you should know that Brady Hoke and Co. are absolutely destroying it on the recruiting trail, and are on pace for Michigan's best recruiting class in recent memory. So that's fun.
In more somber news, Michigan was eliminated from the NCAA softball tournament yesterday after a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Kentucky that featured a 7th-inning collapse. The loss not only ends the season for Coach Hutch, but also marks the end of the historic careers of Jordan Taylor and Dorian Shaw. Big, big holes to fill next season. Recap on MGoBlue.com.
Lion Kim continues to be awesome, and Michigan surged to a win at their NCAA regional to earn a place in the NCAA championships in Oklahoma. Kim shot a career-best 65 to pace Michigan. He'll go down as one of Michigan's all-time greats, and treated M fans everywhere to quite a thrill following him at the Masters. The season is far from over for Michigan, which will be looking to pull the massive upset and take down #1 Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Recap on MGoBlue.com.
That's going to do it for now. Please leave feedback here, or hit me up on Twitter , and we'll see about making this a regular summer feature if people like it.
Most importantly, this thing needs a proper name if it's going to continue. Suggestions appreciated and acknowledged!
Look, we were all disappointed when Darius Morris decided to venture forth into the NBA. We all knew what a great team we would've had last year. However, this is not like Manny Harris' decision to leave early. Everyone predicted Manny to be a second rounder at best, and then he ended up undrafted. However, Morris has clearly received different information. Sporting News and nbadraft.net each have Morris all the way up to the seventeenth pick of the draft, to the New York Knicks. Meanwhile, the Hoops Report has Morris going 21st to the Trailblazers. While there are still some big mock drafts leaving Morris out of the first round (Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick for example) but the general consensus is that Morris is a first-round pick. There's still a lot of time for his stock to rise or fall, but based on the information he had come deadline time (to stay in the draft or pull out) he made the right decision based on the information available to him.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
As I'm sure you can tell from a lack of activity over the last couple weeks, the 2010-11 WCBN Sports season has drawn to a close. We're done with official programming for the summer (though we may pop up here and there with a spring sport or a podcast), and it's been one heck of a year for the department. From the Denarding in South Bend and the Lexi Zimmerman show at Cliff Keen to the Big Chill and Big Dance, we've been there for some of the greatest Michigan moments ever. Hell, WCBN even got to broadcast a hockey national championship game. Sure there have been some lows, namely that debacle in Columbus, the Indiana Hoosier traffic management team, and flag football team Gus' Johnson's playoff loss, but on a whole we've made it to the end of another great year and have plenty to add to WCBN Sports lore.
Rest assured that we'll be discussing new ways to grow and improve the product WCBN Sports puts out, and we're hoping to come back in the Fall stronger than ever. Nothing makes us happier than knowing people are listening and enjoying our broadcasts and sports talk, and we'd all like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who supported us this past year. If you like what we do, your job now is to spread the word about WCBN Sports! This blog will be periodically updated throughout the summer, our Twitter account @WCBNSports will remain active, and we'll keep everybody informed about upcoming events, programming, etc. We love our listeners, and not only do we hope you return next season, but we also hope you bring a new listener or two into the fold. Thank you so much for all your support!