Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Live From Detroit: Teams No. 40 and No. 41

It's that time of year, people. The time I start to forsake my friends, loved ones and job for the ultimately foolish experience of carefully timed trips to see sports venues.

Yes, I know that I did already make trips to see the Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Capitals earlier this year, but this right here is my first two-fer and the first time I've actually needed to board a plane to get anywhere. Of course that plane ride started off somewhat bumpy when I found out that Spirit Airlines is actually not the deal they claim to be because they actually charge you $30 to bring a carry-on bag onto the plane. Isn't avoiding bag fees the whole reason we pack light and make carry-ons to begin with?

In any event, the trip since then has been entirely smooth as my good ol' buddy Lindsay was at DTW in no time to pick me up AND THEN WE HAD CULVERS.

So yeah. So far it's been good. The reason for all this commotion of course is that over the next three days I will be knocking two vaunted names off the list of 122 that I have not yet seen before in the Detroit Pistons and the Detroit Red Wings. I actually did see the Detroit Tigers four years ago when I was a senior in college, but even including that day trip from Chicago, I've spent almost no time in Michigan in my life so this will be something of a new experience, and considering that I had completely forgotten about Culver's being in Michigan, this is already worth the trip.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was particularly excited for Friday night's game for multiple reasons, namely a) Joe Louis Arena, the Joe, looks to be something like the Fenway Park of hockey, b) my seats are going to be awesome, c) they're playing the Blackhawks, who I always enjoy seeing, d) the Blackhawks may well be playing for their playoff lives that night.

It should be fun all around.

Of course, the basketball game comes before that, which should also be fun because the Pistons, in terms of historical significance, I find to be one of the more underrated franchises in North American sports. Their history includes names like Joe Dumars, Isiah "I'm an awful GM, but really a pretty good basketball player" Thomas, Dick Vitale and the recently Hall of Fame-inducted Dennis Rodman. You know, back before the transformation.

Of course, as the 11th-ranked team in the East that history isn't having much of an effect on the Pistons right now, nor is it on the 12th-ranked Nets whom they'll be playing tonight. But if anything, it'll probably be better basketball than we saw Monday night when the Butler Bulldogs went colder than Michigan in January in the second half of the NCAA National Championship Game. During one stretch, Butler went a stunning 1 for 22 from the field in the second half.

So yeah. That may have been the worst National Championship Game I've ever seen. Hell the women's game the next night was better. Really.

And those teams had something to play for, unlike the squads I'm seeing tonight, who will mostly be jockeying for possible Draft lottery positioning. Then again, that's something the Nets are probably used to at this point, unlike their Prudential Center co-tenants, my New Jersey Devils. The Devils played Pittsburgh last night to an eventual 4-2 loss in an utterly meaningless game as far as New Jersey was concerned. This is tough to see as a Devils fan, but considering the last time the Devils played a regular season game with nothing on the line and no playoffs to look forward to was on April 2, 1989, I suppose I can live with it. Bizarrely, those Devils were disappointed to miss the playoffs after getting one win away from the Stanley Cup Final the season before. Also, hey, the Mets are somehow in first place, so how bad could life really be?

Of course, those teams would have plenty to play for in the coming seasons. Who's to say what will happen for the Pistons and Nets after tonight? As for what happens tonight itself, well, probably some mediocre basketball.

But I will be there to find out. And that's the important thing.

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