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Monday, January 28, 2008

Bleah! The hockey team's weekend did not go swimmingly. It took a "Sparty, no!" moment with two minutes left -- Matt Schepke batting a puck into his own net -- for Michigan to escape with a point from two games. My reaction was virtually identical to that of Tim at Yost Built: a couple of ugly games marred by arbitrary refereeing and State's usual dedication to destroying whatever aesthetic beauty hockey might have after a decade of clutch and grab. MSU has mastered the art of not getting called for interference penalties; the resulting hockey might be effective but watching it is pure sadomasochism.

In fact, I thought this exact same thing on Friday:

I had my own hockey game tonight, so I caught this one on the DVR. I managed to not hear anything about our game. So it was kind of amazing that I knew what the final score was by the end of the first period. I believe my exact words were, "We're going to lose this ****ing game 1-0, aren't we?"
At least before last year we had the assurance that karma would direct State to another scoreless loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but noooo. Thanks for nothing, BU and Clarkson and etc.

Tim says basically everything I wanted to about the refereeing in his Saturday post (note that this goes both ways: Matt Rust cross-checked an MSU defender into oblivion right before the goalmouth scramble that led to "Sparty, no!"), except he praises Hall somewhere in there, which I do not co-sign. With Piotrowksi's on-ice retirement there's not a referee in the league that doesn't make me mutter "#&*@, that guy" when he steps on the ice.

Hey, wow. Desmond Howard:
"Well I think only time will tell if it was a good hire. The saddest part of the whole situation is that a Michigan Man never got offered the job. That doesn't sit well with any former players.

"At this point, he has no choice but to be successful. Everyone wants to see what happens. Especially after you saw a Michigan Man (Les Miles) beat (Jim) Tressel, who has pretty much owned Michigan the past (four years). And you saw a Michigan Man beat him handily in a national championship game."

Ammunition for those still hanging on to their image of the coaching search as one long fiasco that stumbled on a pot of gold; Howard was ostensibly part of the search committee and he obviously harbors some bitterness about how everything went down. Rodriguez has some outreach to do with facets of the program that are still upset.

Worst. The MZone has had this beat for a long time now and this particular instance has already been covered by Varsity Blue and the Detroit Sports Rag, but Drew Sharp is such an irredeemable tool that I want to pile on as well. Two weeks ago:
He must keep Pryor away from Jim Tressel.

He must do whatever it takes.

Failure is not an option.
Michigan landing super recruit Terrelle Pryor would be an overrated victory
This perfectly illuminates what pass for Drew Sharp's thought processes. Cancel out the contradictory statements and you're left with a balding cloud of negativity devoid of any actual content.

Sharp himself remains the eternal mystery. I'm fascinated by his continued employment. In years of wandering around message boards and blogs dedicated not only to Michigan but Michigan State, the Pistons, the Tigers, and to a lesser extent the Red Wings and Lions I've never heard anything even neutral about Drew Sharp. He is hated by every fanbase in the city where he works, and the possessor of the world's worst average Amazon rating: 1. Nine users deigned to review his book of collected columns. Choice excerpts:
My 2 year old is a better writer
I'm ashamed that a publisher would actually give people inside and outside of Detroit an opportunity to re-read this negative and unoriginal tripe.
On the surface, publishing a compilation of articles from one of Earth's most untalented journalists probably seemed like a good idea. This culmination of decades of wasted ink and mindless opinions would certainly have many uses.
I can't believe that anyone would seriously considered [sic] buying, let alone reading, this filth.
Drew Sharp proves all the critics wrong with this book and shows that people with disability can actually put words together on a page.
Drew Sharp is one of the 5 worst sports writers in America. He is mean-spirited, ill-informed, and virtually talentless.
what a worthless human being
There's no sugarcoating the truth regarding this book.

It will be forever branded a loser.

No heart. No toughness. No sales.
You should probably read the entirety of that last one; it's a little masterpiece. The nicest one... the nicest one! In its entirety:
1.0 out of 5 stars This guy is a hack, March 22, 2005
By MW "Calle_Betis" (Michigan) - See all my reviews

He's a predictable columnist. His perspective is limited. Sharp is biased and if you read his columns, you've already read what he has to offer.

Save your money.
This isn't eye-rolling or discontent. This is loathing.

The Free Press' logic is probably straightforward: I bet he gets a lot of hits on his pieces. Every time he writes a rip job on someone, incensed people post links on the relevant message boards. Despite the 100% guaranteed "don't give this guy attention" response posted two seconds after the initial link, people click and absorb the latest tripe.

However, there's a hidden cost here. Does anyone feel any kind of loyalty to the Free Press? Probably not. If you're like me, whenever Drew Sharp flits across your consciousness you think "man, screw those guys." If copies of the paper started showing up for free on my doorstep I'd demand they stop sending them. There are a lot of reasons newspaper circulation is plummeting; I'd bet one of them is the continued presence of knobs like Sharp poisoning many sports' fans opinions of the entire newspaper's brand. I know the Free Press employs a man without talent or scruples solely to irritate me into giving them a page view, so I am inclined to look upon the rest of their paper as one enormous attention whore.

The grander mystery is encapsulated in the "eeee Barwis" video. Several readers pointed out the looming, corpulent figure of Sharp trundling through the frame chewing on a donut near the end of Barwis' opus on strength and conditioning. It's just about at the end:

The mystery: why the hell is this guy allowed in the building? It's odd. Because Drew Sharp has been granted space in a local newspaper, he is granted access despite the years of evidence that he will do nothing with this access except bite the hand that fed it to him. Why does Michigan (and Michigan State, for that matter) tolerate the guy? What, is he going to write more negative articles about the school? The local sports franchises should blacklist him.

And you, if you subscribe to the Free Press, should stop.

SEC Speed. M 34, South Carolina 3.

Say what? The Free Press has a weirdly outdated article on MI DE Nick Perry's recruitment. To wit:

That effort could pay off in a big way for Dantonio and MSU if one of the top in-state recruits chooses the Spartans over Michigan, Southern Cal and Miami on National Signing Day on Feb. 6. Detroit King defensive end Nick Perry has MSU among his final four schools, a testament to Dantonio's persistence in recruiting the Detroit area.

"It would be a nice little feather in his cap if he could get Nick," English said.

A Perry commitment could be a defining moment for Dantonio at MSU and the capstone of a successful 2008 class. The Spartans rarely have beaten U-M for recruits in recent years, but Dantonio snagged two players who also had offers from the Wolverines -- 6-foot-7 Novi defensive end Tyler Hoover, who has enrolled at MSU, and Southeastern wide receiver Fred Smith, currently the highest-ranked recruit in the class, according to recruiting network

That's all well and good, except that Perry has been maintaining that Michigan, USC, and Miami are his top three for over a week now. Other potential defining moments for Dantonio:
  • glorious 2007 victory over Michigan
  • commitment of Sam McGuffie
  • defeat of ninja assassins sent to kill emperor Han.
There's a lot more sugarcoating of a pretty wretched MSU recruiting class that features Fred Smith and zero other four-star guys.

Etc.: Ohio State players visit a Pryor basketball game, which is a recruiting violation; Nate Fenno indirectly calls out Eric Lacey.