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Saturday, June 12, 2010

More thoughts on Izzo

Here's something I wrote on a sports-related Facebook page, in response to the question "Will Tom Izzo leave to coach Cleveland?". These posts tend to ignite a little more passion in me than this blog (the irony of that is not lost on me. Isn't a blog where you're supposed to really blow off steam?), so here's what I wrote:

"Maybe this is just the Spartan fan in me talking, but it would be a mistake for Izzo to leave MSU. He is already a legend in East Lansing, as well as the rest of the state, but if he stays at MSU he will be among the "Mt. Rushmore" of anyone ever associated with the school, that means the likes of John Hannah, Biggie Munn, and Duffy Daugherty.

"If Izzo goes the NBA, he's just another pro coach dealing with temperamental pro players with overinflated egos. His personality is not cut out for the pro game and he will flame out quickly. I'm not saying he couldn't win in the NBA, but he will never develop the love and personal connections that he's made at MSU."

That just about sums up my deeply impassioned feelings on the matter. Am I coming at it as a dyed-green Michigan State fan?--of course, I will not deny that for a second. But beyond the fat paycheck, or the (still very much up in the air) possibility of coaching LeBron, I don't see how coaching in the NBA is that enticing. Izzo has developed roots in this community and this state that I can't imagine he really wants to sever.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is Izzo gonna go?

The big news around these parts is MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo, and whether or not he will take the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching job.

I've never seen or heard basketball fans more nervous about the possibility of Izzo leaving, me included. Depending on what news report you read, it appears that Izzo may be closer to taking the job, but who really knows until an official announcement is made?

I have to think his decision is largely dependent on whether he has assurances that LeBron James will be re-signing with the Cavs--that is, unless all the money Cleveland is shoving in Izzo's direction is too hard for him to resist.

I'll be pretty despondent if Izzo takes the job, but we MSU fans are lucky we've had him as long as we have. I just don't see any way that MSU basketball can continue to be as excellent as it has been under Izzo, regardless of who the new coach will be.

It's hard to fault Izzo for taking this job, if he does--particularly if he has a chance to coach arguably the best basketball player in the world, on a team that is poised to win an NBA title. If Izzo stays at MSU though, he can become the most legendary figure in the school's history. He'll most certainly have a statue right in front of Breslin Center.

Until we know what Izzo's decision is, I'm going to be on pins and needles...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Galarraga's near perfect game: a lesson in sportsmanship for us all

Like every Detroit Tiger fan, I was shocked, disappointed, and at least somewhat angered about how Armando Galarraga's bid for perfection ended last night.

I must admit that I did not see any of the game. I was talking to my mom on the phone and, after our conversation ended, happened to be browsing on one of my favorite "news sources," Facebook. The Detroit Tigers posted an update stating that Galarraga had a perfect game through eight innings. I practically leaped from my computer chair, made a mad dash ten feet to the closest television (in our bedroom), and flicked it on--only to discover that the game had just ended. The postgame had started and Galarraga was being interviewed. The score appeared on the screen a few seconds later and I saw that Cleveland had gotten a hit. I soon discovered that his hit was made possible by umpire Jim Joyce's missed call at first base.

Thus began a night that consisted of me investigating, reading, and chatting on every sports-related site I could find on the web. I also spent some time bantering back-and-forth with various Tiger fans on Facebook. When I tired of this, I studied the replay of "the play" ad infinitum as if it was the Zapruder film. This wasn't too difficult, as it seemed that ESPN showed the replay about six times per hour from about 11:00 PM until way after I finally went to sleep.

As one can imagine, the rants by the fans ranged from the conciliatory (but rare) "it's only a game, let's move on" vibe to the more frequent sentiment of "Fire Joyce's ass, he sucks." I'd have to put myself somewhere in the middle. To suggest Jim Joyce be fired over a missed call is, of course, completely ridiculous. (Unfortunately, the main instigator of the "grab the pitchforks" mentality was a certain mid-Michigan sports radio show host who shall remain nameless).

Amidst of all of the fans' vitriol and the commentary from various sports pundits decrying the injustice of it all and the need for instant replay in baseball, the two people who showed the most decency and class were Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce. (I should also mention that the other Tiger players, and manager Jim Leyland, were extremely diplomatic about the blown call).

Armando Galarraga, the one person who has a right to be the most angry and disappointed, has been an absolute prince. His sportsmanship should be a model for all of us.

Jim Joyce displayed a great deal of strength and bravery in admitting his error and apologizing to Galarraga. Galarraga's warm response to Joyce's apology is nothing short of heartwarming.

The lesson in all of this is that, if Galarraga and Joyce can let bygones be bygones and move on, then we all should be able to do so.