Sunday, May 22, 2016

Our seventh anniversary: The Detroit sports landscape----then and now

On Sunday, May 22, The Knee Jerks will be celebrating our seventh anniversary of what might be the longest-running Detroit sports podcast....ever.

Our lineup of guests will be, as it always is for our anniversary shows, a laundry list of some of our favorite podcast visitors.

  • Linda Murray Hofmans of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation
  • Adam Biggers, college sports reporter extraordinaire
  • Ray Scott, former Pistons player and coach
  • Dave Mesrey, who'll talk about the 40th anniversary of Mark Fidrych's big year
  • Earl Shores, author of The Unforgettable Buzz, an illustrated history of electric football
  • Bob Page, retired Detroit and New York sports broadcaster, host and anchor
  • Matt Hutter, our Red Wings and NHL Insider

But what was the Detroit sports landscape like back in May, 2009, when Al Beaton and Greg Eno started The Knee Jerks?

Red Wings
When the show began, the Red Wings were about to lose a heartbreaking, seven-game Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins, with Game 7 on home ice, no less. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were in their prime, and Niklas Kronwall was starting to make a name for himself with his thunderous hits.

Darren Helm was a rookie and Justin Abdelkader was also just coming onto the scene. The goalie was Chris Osgood. Chris Chelios was still an active player!

The team was one year removed from winning their fourth Stanley Cup in 11 years.

The Pistons were coming off their first losing season since 2001, as the great Allen Iverson experiment failed miserably. Iverson, acquired from Denver for Chauncey Billups in November, 2008, wasn't a good fit with rookie Pistons coach Michael Curry (a bad hire).

The 2008-09 season, in fact, was the first time the Pistons missed the playoffs since 2002.

This lends itself to a trivia nugget: until last month, the subject of the Pistons in the playoffs had NEVER been discussed on The Knee Jerks.

The Lions had just made their draft pick---number one overall in the 2009 draft---and it was quarterback Matthew Stafford, who joined first-year coach Jim Schwartz as new Lions.

"New" was a tricky word, though, because coming off an historic 0-16 season in 2008, fans were rightly skeptical about the notion of the "new" Lions---albeit with new uniforms for 2009.

The Matt Millen Era had been mercifully ended about seven months prior to our first podcast.

Calvin Johnson was heading into his third season and the leading rusher was Kevin Smith, who had 976 yards in 2008.

And Matthew Stafford was the new franchise QB.

He still is---for now.

In May, 2009, the Tigers were coming off a highly disappointing 2008 season, which saw them stockpile on big names but nonetheless get off to a horrible start on their way to a last-place finish (sound familiar?).

Jim Leyland was in his fourth year as the team's skipper. Justin Verlander was also coming off a disappointing season---and he was just 26 years old, same as Miguel Cabrera.

The starting catcher was mostly....Gerald Laird. Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge and Placido Polanco were all starters. The closer was Fernando Rodney and a youngster named Rick Porcello was a rookie who made 31 starts.

Sadly, the 2009 season would end with that horrific Game 163 in that damn Metrodome.

So that was the lay of the land, Detroit sports-wise, when The Knee Jerks first hit the Internet air seven years ago.

In some cases (*cough* Lions *cough*), the more things changed, the more they stayed the same!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New episode! Ray Scott likes the Pistons' chances, the Jerks eviscerate the Lions

It's time to launch another NBA season and unlike last year at this time, Knee Jerks friend Ray Scott is high on the team.

A year ago, the former Pistons player and coach expressed grave concerns about the makeup of new coach (and President) Stan Van Gundy's odd roster, which was in transition from the previous regime. And coach's concerns were justified, as the team got off to a 5-23 start.

But Josh Smith was released and the Pistons went 27-27 the rest of the way.

This year, the Piston jumped out of the gate 3-0 and coach likes what he sees.

"I'll be disappointed if this team doesn't make the playoffs," coach says in his visit with us.

We asked him if anything about the team concerns him. His answer will probably surprise you.

After the warm and fuzzy Pistons talk, the Jerks lay into the sad sack Lions, discussing what needs to be done to change course. But...will the owner follow suit?

Of course, there's "Jerk of the Week" and "Whose Birthday Is It?" At stake: a case of Stroh's "Bohemian Style" beer!

You can listen to the episode HERE.

Monday, July 20, 2015

New episode! Lotsa Tigers, some Red Wings, a little bit of U-M

Buy or sell?

By now you're tired of hearing that question when it comes to the Tigers, so why don't you tune in to the latest episode of "The Knee Jerks" and hear the final answer, once and for all?

Eno and Big Al tackle the team's future as the July 31 interleague, non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

Buy or sell?

Tune in and find out what the Jerks think!

There's also some time for Red Wings talk, particularly the locking up of forward Gustav Nyquist with a contract extension.

Finally, the Jerks discuss the gargantuan new apparel contract that the University of Michigan signed with Nike, to the tune of $169 million. Do you still think that college athletes shouldn't be compensated?

Listen to the show HERE.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

It's our six-year anniversary!

Hard to believe, but it was May 2009 when "The Knee Jerks" turned from an online chat into an online podcast.

Every year around this time, we celebrate another 12 months of Eno ranting and Big Al editing (and listening) while he waits to get a word in edgewise.

As usual, we've invited back a number of past guests to help us mark the occasion.

They are:

Earl Shores (Electric Football book author)
Linda McCoy-Murray (Jim Murray Memorial Foundation)
Matt Hutter (Red Wings Insider)
Ed Cmar (covers Columbus Blue Jackets and the NHL)
Pete Krupsky (longtime voice of the OHL's Plymouth Whalers)
Ray Scott (former Pistons player and coach)
Michael Schottey (formerly of Bleacher Report and about to start a new, exciting venture TBA)
Dave Mesrey (Navin Field Grounds Crew)
Dave Pallone (former big league umpire and current author and motivational speaker)

We had a great time catching up with each of these folks!

You can listen to the podcast HERE.

Here's to six more years!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Latest episode! Pistons active at the deadline; should Red Wings deal? And more!

Eno and Big Al's latest episode of "The Knee Jerks" covers all four Detroit sports teams.

Pistons: Red-hot and active at the deadline; will they make the playoffs? What is future of Reggie Jackson in Detroit? Is Tayshaun Prince just here until the end of the season?

Red Wings: The trading deadline is next week. Should the Red Wings make a splash, or should they stand pat or stick to minor moves?

Tigers: The Jerks discuss the health of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez heading into the 2015 season.

Lions: GM Martin Mayhew proposes changes to the NFL's replay system. Good or bad?

All that plus Jerk of the Week and Whose Birthday Is It? (on the line for Big Al: a case of ScotchGard!)

Listen to the episode HERE!

Next episode: Coach Ray Scott (March 8) stops by to talk about the new-look, rejuvenated Pistons!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New episode! Bob Page

There's never a dull moment when retired (and we use that word loosely!) sportscaster Bob Page (Detroit, New York) joins The Knee Jerks, and his latest appearance is no exception.

In a brisk 35+ minutes, we run the gamut with Bob, talking about Michigan and Michigan State football, the Tigers, the Lions, the Red Wings and, yes, even the Pistons (at Bob's request). Page also riffs on the Ray Rice/NFL situation.

It's all great fun, and it can be heard by clicking HERE.

After Bob, the Jerks tackle many of the same issues but with their own inimitable spin.

As usual, there's "Jerk of the Week" and "Whose Birthday Is It?" (at stake: a year's supply of Faygo Red Pop)!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New! Big Al fears for Eno's well-being

Eno almost has an aneurysm in the latest episode of "The Knee Jerks," talking about the "infuriating" (Eno's word) Matthew Stafford and the rest of the 7-4 Detroit Lions.

Everything gets Eno agitated in this episode---from the Lions to the in-flux Tigers as their critical offseason begins.

As usual, there's "Whose Birthday Is It?" and "Jerk of the Week"!

Listen to it happen HERE.