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October 13, 2004 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-13

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Wednesday
October 13, 2004
sports.michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

ft Skian Daag
SPORTS

11

. . . .... . .... ...... . .............. . ... .............. .. .. .. ... .. .. .. .

Watson, Massey
anchor trenches

Fans at the root
of Yankee hatred

By Bob Hunt
Daily Sports Editor
Going into this season, the defen-
sive line was one of the biggest ques-
tion marks surrounding Michigan
football. With the Wolverines start-
ing just three down linemen, the
front three's ability to draw double
teams and free up linebackers to
make tackles was going to be crucial
for the Michigan defense.
During the first two games of
the season, the question mark still
remained. Against Miami (Ohio) and
Notre Dame, the Wolverines failed
to apply pressure in the backfield.
Michigan finished those games with a
combined two sacks and 10 tackles for
loss. The defense had to rely on turn-
overs in order to be effective.
But the group of Larry Harrison,
Pat Massey and Gabe Watson has
progressed significantly in recent
weeks. Michigan now ranks third in
the Big Ten in sacks with 14, and has
had at least eight tackles for loss in
each of the past four games. Play-
ers such as Massey and Watson, who
were drawing just one offensive line-
man, are now often going up against
two or three. While the defensive
line attempts to emulate this in prac-
tice, it is still difficult to mentally
prepare to go against multiple 300-
pound players.
"It's weird because you want to go
against one guy and you focus on one
guy but you get double-teamed," Wat-
son said.
Prior to the season, Michigan
switched to a 3-4 defense because it
wanted to take advantage of its depth

at linebacker. While Carr has said
numerous times this season that he
feels that formation is optimal for
stopping the run, many teams run a 4-
3 defense to deal with the ever-grow-
ing size of collegiate offensive lines.
But Watson, who's listed at 6-foot-4
and 333 pounds, has been able to clog
up the line at nose tackle.
"If you're going to run the 3-4
defense, that's what you need," Carr
said. "Obviously we've got good depth
at linebacker, but that defense begins
with a nose guard. Because if you've
got a nose guard in that defense,
you've got a guy that can go quickly
to the side the ball's run to, and a lot
of times it forces the guard and the
center to double team him."
Massey currently leads the Wol-
verines with four sacks, including a
second-down sack last week of Min-
nesota quarterback Brian Cupito,
which forced the Golden Gophers
to burn a timeout late in the game.
Massey credited the play to Watson,
who opened up the hole to the quar-
terback for him.
"(Watson) came through and took
out two or three blockers, and all I had
to do was get around the tight end and
get to the quarterback," Massey said.
The 6-foot-8 Massey prepared
for the new scheme by putting on
weight over the summer - he's up to
276 from 260 two years ago. He also
brings his intensity - which likely
comes from a family that includes a
father who played at Notre Dame,
a brother who played at Ohio State
and a another brother, Mike, who is a
freshman tight end at Michigan - to
rile up the group.

R-YAN WEINER/Daily
Michigan defensive lineman Gabe Watson has two of the Wolverine's 14 sacks this
year, creating more havoc for opposing quarterbacks.

"He's a good motivator," Watson
said. "He's always amped during
games, and it keeps you going."
A recent development is the return
of defensive end Jeremy Van Alstyne,
who was supposed to be out for the
year due to a knee injury that he suf-
fered during spring practice. But
Van Alstyne has made an incredible

recovery and got some brief action
last Saturday. Teammates say that Van
Alstyne was a big playmaker in spring
practice before his injury and should
bolster a vastly improving unit.
"This spring, he was by far one of
his best defensive linemen," Massey
said. "His presence out there is really
helping us."

SHARAD MATTU
Mattu fast, Mattu furious
Late the Yankees.
I say it all the time, and I never hesi-
te to say it. I'm a Mets fan, so that's
obviously part of the reason. But I have my
reasons, right?
So when I decided to write a column
about this very hatred, I thought it would
be easy.
But then I asked myself why I hated the
Yankees. About two hours passed, and I
had no answer.
I don't hate the players.
Fans never really know what kind of
people athletes truly are (like Kobe Bry-
ant - who knew?), but for the most part,
it seems like the team is filled with good
guys.
Derek Jeter is the ultimate team player,
someone who never, ever seems to make
the wrong play. Bernie Williams, Mariano
Rivera, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui
all seem to do everything right, too.
Sometimes players behave themselves
while they're on the Yankees, and as soon
as they take off the pinstripes, things
change. Take Shane Spencer. Five years
ago, he was an unheralded rookie slam-
ming huge home runs in the playoffs. This
past year, on the Mets, he had three inci-
dents involving alcohol, including one in
which he mysteriously sliced his heel and
had to go on the injured list.
I don't hate George Steinbrenner.
He's obnoxious and a little senile. He
fires the elevator operators and cuts his
employees' dental plan to save money. He
forbids facial hair. And he cried during
this year's home opener for no apparent
reason.
But he really tries to put together the
best team possible, so how can anyone
really complain?
The last few years, even though he's had
a team that he knows will make the play-
offs, he's never been satisfied. Some of the
moves have backfired horribly, but enough
have worked.
He's definitely amusing, and I can't say
I hate him.
I don't hate the Yankees' endless supply
of money that allows them to solve prob-
lems with ease.
The fact that the Yankees can have a
$200 million dollar payroll and a team
like the Brewers has a payroll that is a fifth

of that is ridiculously pathetic, but it's the
way Major League Baseball works. The
fact that the lack of a salary cap benefits
the Yankees more than all other teams
combined is just the way the cookie
crumbles.
I don't hate Yankee Stadium.
Have you seen Shea Stadium?
Just about out of ideas, it was at that
point I remembered seeing a car in the
Daily's parking lot with a huge Yankees
sticker on the front hood. I don't know
whose car it is, but every time I see it, I
want to smash the car with a bat.
That's it! I hate Yankees fans.
Yeah, that's it. I hate all of them. The
diehards. The phony, bandwagon ones
who pop up in October. The old, crusty
ones who remember DiMaggio and Man-
tle. The young ones who wear Yankees
hats in colors like sky blue, red and orange
(remember those?). I hate Billy Crystal
and Rudy Giuliani (the Yankee fan, not
the person), too.
Being a Mets fan is far from easy.
They're in the same city as the Yankees,
who have made the playoffs 10 straight
years, and in the same division as the
Braves, who have a streak running at 13.
But while the Braves have no fans, every-
one pretends to be Yankees fans. Among
people under 25 in the New York area, I
estimate Yankees fans outnumber Mets
fans 5-to-1.
Yankees fans pay no attention to base-
ball until October, because they know
they'll make the playoffs. Somehow,
they think they deserve to win the World
Series.
They even complain that they haven't
won a World Series in four years, when
teams like the Red Sox, White Sox and
Cubs have been waiting for a combined
200-plus years.
They think they're clever with chants
like "1918," shirts that say "Who's your
daddy?" and chants of players' names dur-
ing the first inning. But they're not.
The fans even mess up the actual
games, like when Jeffrey Maier reached
over the fence to give Jeter a home run in
1996 against Baltimore. Sorry to bring
that up, Orioles fans.
The point is, they're everywhere. And if
the team wasn't good, they wouldn't give a
damn. I guarantee it.
The only good thing about Yankees
fans is the look on their faces when they
lose during the playoffs.
Sharad Mattu is confident the Yan-
kees will lose to the Red Sox. The time,
simply put, has come. He doesn't care
about game one. He can be reached at
smattu@umich.edu.

Nystrom easing back into lineup

By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Writer
Three weeks ago during practice, senior captain Eric
Nystrom came strong to the net, trying desperately to
score on senior defenseman Reilly Olson. Olson hit Nys-
trom across the chest, where he wears no extra padding.
The hit sidelined the captain for the rest of preseason
captain-run practices, the exhibition games and the first
two games of the season last weekend.
"The injury made the summer even longer," Nystrom
said. "You work hard all year to get back into the lineup,
but you get injured early in the year and miss the first
couple of games of the season."
But the senior is making his comeback this week.

Nystrom spent the first two weeks after the injury
doing nothing. He said that he couldn't move at all for
the first week, and essentially just stayed in bed all week.
Last week he was able to start riding an exercise bike
and even got onto the ice a bit to skate by himself.
He wasn't able to play at all over the first two weeks of
the season, spending the time behind the bench - coach-
ing the white team during the Blue-White Intrasquad
scrimmage on Oct. 3 - and in the stands - watching
the games last weekend at the Lefty McFadden Invita-
tional. Nystrom said he learned a lot about his team-
mates while off the ice, but also began to understand
why the coaches get so upset sometimes.
"To see those bounces just bouncing over guys' sticks,
or guys just missing the puck, it's so frustrating," Nys-

trom said. "But there is nothing you can do about it, and
it is totally frustrating.
"I can understand why (Michigan coach Red Beren-
son) comes in sometimes into the locker room in between
periods and just gives us a reaming ... He wishes he
could be out there and making a difference, but you can
only tell your players what to do. If they're not doing it, it
is the most frustrating thing ever."
But the wait is finally over for Nystrom - he can play
again. He still has pain in his ribs, but not the sharp pain
that he's had for the past few weeks. Instead, it's just a
dull soreness in his left side, and he will play this week-
end with extra padding on his ribs. Monday was the first
day that he practiced on the ice with the team. He said
that it was good to get on the ice, but admitted that he
was tired.
Berenson said that Nystrom looked like he was a step
behind at practice this week, but added that that is to be
expected after a three-week hiatus.
"You can't stay in skating shape when you're off the
ice for two weeks," Nystrom said. "It's just a totally dif-
ferent shape. You can ride the bike all you want, you can
run all you want, but once you get back on the ice, it's
tough. The first day I was back on the ice, I was skating
for about 10 seconds and I was burnt out."
But Berenson has limited Nystrom's shifts in practice.
He plans to give Nystrom some playing time this week-
end, but said that he would limit Nystrom's shifts in the
game, as well.
"I wouldn't play him as much unless he's having a
strong game," Berenson said. "He might be really ener-
gized, and I'm sure he'll be really anxious to play. So
we'll have to wait and see. I'll just read that as we go
along and play it by ear."
Nystrom has even more work to do than a normal
recovering player because he is trying to adjust to a new
position as well as make a return to the ice. The lack of
true centers on the team this year has forced Nystrom to
make the move from winger to center. Berenson said that
Nystrom is progressing at his new position, but wanted
to wait to see his captain in a game before making any
true judgments.
"It's tough," Nystrom said. "It's a lot harder than I
thought it was going to be. But you get the puck a lot
more, so it's a lot more responsibility. You have to make
good plays with the puck, and I like it."

Never mind Mike Mussina, the fans are the reason to hate the Yankees .

TONY DING/Daily

Captain Eric Nystrom will slowly make his way back into Michigan's regular rotation.

International x. rir girids. k~'"m
CareerS
University Of Michigan
Pathways
This week's
International Career Panel Discussions
Graduate School Pathways to International Careers
Wednesday, October 13, 12-1 pm, Career Center.
Internships in the UN (for graduate students)
Thursday, October 14, 12-1 pm, 2609 SSWB
"secnesdayOctober 13, 2004
For next week's panel discussions, visit the ICP website: 2 pM. - 6 p .m. .

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