11 May 2010

Hey Mitch: Shove it.

Let me preface this. Mitch Albom has written some of the best articles I've ever read. His article for Sports Illustrated, "The Courage of Detroit": Beautiful. Exceptional. Outstanding.

But Mitch has strayed from hockey. Sure, he hammers out the occasional piece for the Freep here and there. However, those usually only show up when the season is just beginning or during the playoffs. Mitch just can't be bothered with those pesky, boring, non-flashy 82 games in between. Yeah, he'll lay down some text for those shiny posters after a championship - but a game in December? Psh, leave that to the poors.

Well, our postseason is over. Unfortunately it didn't end with one of those flashy poster pieces that Mitch so loves. Instead, he's forced to write about a semifinals loss. Poor Mitch.

DETROIT -- In Hockeytown, when the team wins, it feels like destiny, and when it loses, destiny took a breather, sure to be back next year, ready for a kiss, right?

Well, at the risk of having my head taken off, don't be so sure. In the aftermath of the Red Wings' second-round departure from the playoffs, we have been hearing a lot of "Hey, injuries made it a weird year" and "Hey, those were one-goal losses against San Jose" and "Hey, the rest will do the Wings good." ...
Sure, injuries made it a weird year. But when the Wings got healthy, they won 16 of their last 21 games and were "the team nobody wants to play in the playoffs," remember?
What happened next? They lost seven of 12. And only one frontline guy, Brad Stuart, in the final game, was seriously hurt. So how are injuries an excuse?
First, here's a common theme among Detroit writers over the past couple of days that has me batshit crazy. "Well, at the risk of having my head taken off." Yes. You are the be-all-end-all wise, objective sports-writer. Here to put us peons in our place. We, the mass of mouthbreathing knuckledraggers who simply couldn't understand the ins and outs of a hockey game. How could we? We are not one of the CHOSEN, selected from the masses for superior intellect and an unparalleled gift of prose to preach to the drooling hoard. How could we understand? We don't have the opportunity to watch every fifteenth game (you know... when it's convenient) from the pressbox, among the stonefaced elites.

Heavy is the head, though. When the unfortunate happens, when the team into which they have such unique insight crashes and burns - they have to break the news. Now, they saw it coming, of course. Because they were just so damn objective and insightful, they knew everything that would happen well before it did. Wait. Wait wait. Don't go looking in the archives. Just trust them. They knew. But now, they have a duty. An obligation to break the news: the Wings are no longer in the playoffs. No easy task, as us barbaric peons are a tempermental bunch. Risking life and limb, they slowly explain to us that the Wings have been beaten, and no excuses are acceptable.

Not even just excuses. No criticisms of anything other than your team. Officiating? Don't even bring it up. The elite - the chosen - have been bullied by the great and powerful national elite. They don't want to look bad. It doesn't matter that the officiating was a complete and utter joke. It doesn't matter if you preface every single criticism with "Listen, I'm not taking anything way from the Sharks, they were the better team, the Wings didn't play hard enough and Joe Thornton has a HUGE penis, BUT..." If you say just one little thing, you are a whiner who just cannot accept that your team could be beat, and damnit - you're making those writers look bad!

Columnists, radio personalities, and now even authors with insight into who you'll meet in heaven have been throwing the gauntlet over the past few days. Asking -no- DEMANDING that Wings fans stop making them look bad by commenting at all about the officiating. They've allowed Mr. Puck Daddy to get in their heads and push them around. The message from them all: no complaints. It doesn't matter how much you qualify those complaints with a recognition that in the end the loss is still on the Wings. Don't you dare complain, otherwise you're just a plain old ignorant, idiotic, bitching and moaning poor sport.

Bullshit.

I'm sorry, but fuck you. The officiating sucked. It's worth getting upset about, and it's worth commenting on. I'm not blaming the series on the refs. They didn't decide shit. It was between the team in teal and the team in red. Teal found the way to win. But they did it in a series that saw some of the most ridiculous officiating in decades. That incompetence undermines the league and the sport. As a fan, I've got a right to be pissed. So, to those who choose to classify any complaint I have as an excuse? Fuck you. Quote that in the freep.

Ahem. Back to it:
...Neither is the new economy in hockey, which has leveled the playing field. Marian Hossa is still alive in the playoffs - but for the Blackhawks. Mikael Samuelsson already has more playoff goals than anyone on the Wings - but for Vancouver.

You can't hoard your stars the way Detroit used to. And now comes a heavy decision with Nicklas Lidstrom. If he leaves, the Wings lose their captain, the anchor of their defense and their locker room. If he stays, they spend at least $6 million to $7 million of their salary cap on a guy who is 40.
Whoa. Whoa whoa fucking whoa, Mitch. Let me stop you right there. You seem to be suggesting that Captain Norris himself wouldn't be worth the money he'd pull if he decides (fingers crossed) to stick it out for another year or two. See, that opinion is objectively fucking asinine. Only a moron, or someone who simply hasn't watched any hockey this year, could come to the conclusion that it could possibly be a detriment to have the best defensive player to ever lace them up on their team. Boy. It sure would be tough to spend that amount on a guy who's 40. Nevermind the fact that there isn't a coach on the planet that on a one-year basis would choose any defenseman currently playing over Nick Lidstrom.
...Listen, I am not saying the Wings can't do it. They're a great franchise. But we shouldn't consider it some kind of automatic. My first thought when the Wings began to falter this year was this: They should have won Game 6 last June. Detroit was on the precipice of back-to-back Cups, with a 3-2 lead on Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. If ever birthright needed to assert itself, it was that night. Grab it when you can.
Was it? Was that your first thought? Well... when was that? Oh yeah, you said when they began to falter. Would that be early in the season, when Larry Aurie was busy knucklefucking our lineup? I'm guessing no. I'm guessing that Mitch tuned out right after his pre-season previews, and tuned right back in the next time I can find a meaningful column from him on the Freep - when the Wings were facing elimination to the Yotes. Then he stepped out, with the same attitude about him: "You disgusting fans. You just think you deserve this, huh? Well, I'm smarter than you, and I'm telling you nothing is guaranteed."

Look. Like I've said - Mitch can write a helluva column. He has the ability to be one of the absolute best out there. Bar none. Maybe I'm just picking on him because he's the most recent in the line of Detroit sports writers to condescendingly wag their fingers at us "fans" (you know, the people that put up with their drivel and keep them employed) for ever having the audacity to complain, or want our team to win! Maybe I'm picking on him in the same way that I absolutely hate, hate, hate everything Metallica put out after 1991. They've proven it before, and I know they've got it in them to put out something earthshattering. That mediocre run of the mill bullshit just isn't going to fly.

Or maybe I'm picking on him because I'm just one of those knuckledragging mouthbreathers he was so worried would "tear off his head" and I'm sour over the early offseason.

By the way, here's the link to Mitch's piece. It's apparently not up at Freep yet. Stick tap to the Emperor over at Kukla's Korner for the pointer. 

UPDATE: Here's the Freep link to this drivel.

...is it October yet?

1 comment:

  1. I love Mitch Albom but have to agree with you on this one. Kicking the Red Wings while they're down is the flavor of the month for sports writers right now and I guess Albom is no exception.

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