Thursday, December 21, 2006

2006: The Year of the Head

It's that time of year when everybody does retrospectives of the year and lists of the year's best/worsts. Well, I am about to go a little further and declare that this was the year of the head in the sports world.

The head affected championships, champions and made some spectacular highlights. No other body part had more of an impact on the sports world...not the hands...not the feet...nothing else. So, without further ado, the top three heads affecting the sports world this year.







3. Aaron Rowand, Philadelphia Phillies: This incredible catch and collision by Rowand may not have had as much effect on the team's season, but it was amazing and showed the bravery of Rowand.










2. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: There isn't actually a picture of Roethlisberger's head after it met the car above this summer. However, his head has greatly affected the NFL champion's season. Big Ben ended up having an emergency appendectomy at the outset of the season and played rather poorly throughout the first half of the season. The Steelers have started to recover but the champions may still miss the playoffs. For that, Big Ben's head gets the number two slot.


1. Zinedine Zidane, France Men's National Soccer Team: Zizou's headbutt of Marco Materazzi in the World Cup Final this year affected his sport more than any other head involved incident this year. Zidane was ejected from the game and ultimately his team lost. There was worldwide outrage and curiousity about his actions. He gave interviews and was called upon to apologize. By the way, he only apologized to the children and not to Materazzi. Zidane's actions even led to numerous parodies of the headbutt. Ultimately, Zidane's head most affected the sports world in the year of the head. Congratulations, Zizou!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bagwell Retires. That's nice. What Took So Long?

I'm a little late on this story but, I guess, so is Jeff Bagwell. Last week, Houston Astros great, Jeff Bagwell, announced his retirement after 15 years in the big leagues. I can't say I've ever been a fan of Bagwell but I'm no hater. He had a great career. Maybe even Hall of Fame worthy. However, I wonder why it took so long for him to announce it.

Bagwell has barely played in the last two years and he didn't even play this year. So, why the wait? Well, it appears the Astros have reached a settlement with its insurance company on a breach of contract claim. The Astros had a policy that would pay Bagwell's 2006 salary--$17 million--if he could not play that season. The settlement terms aren't public but I'm sure Houston got a good chunk of change and now Bagwell is retiring. Coincidence? I think not. But according to Astros officials it was just dumb luck.

It was a total coincidence that this occurred about the same time that Jeff's announcement of his retirement (did)," Fisher said. "We ... got together and resolved it. It's over and done with.
I imagine if Bagwell retired he wouldn't get that $7 million buyout from Houston and the 'Stros probably couldn't get any money from the insurance company. In the end, it always comes down to money, doesn't it?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Reviewing Jemele Hill's Work on ESPN.com

Back in November ESPN.com hired a new writer, Jemele Hill, ostensibly to replace the departed Jason Whitlock, who went out guns blazing and taking aim at the ‘bojanglers’. TheBigLead.com first reported her hiring and $200K/year salary about two weeks after TheBigLead.com had interviewed her. The first offering of Ms. Hill came out in mid-November and it was not very well received by many (here, here and here), myself included.

Being the impulsive sort, I fired off an email to Ms. Hill criticizing here. Here’s the text:


"Give me two things you believe that logical people think are utterly ridiculous.
1. Oliver Stone's movies are based on the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.
2. "Old School" wasn't that funny. "Anchorman" crushed it."

So, was the above statement meant to say that you are an illogical person? It sure sounds like it, which means everything you said prior to that statement and everything after should be considered illogical. Oh well, at least it's not me writing.

The Fan's Attic

Lo and behold, a few weeks later Ms. Hill, to my great surprise, responded:

The Fan’s Attic

Sorry it took so long for me to respond. Thanks for writing.

Just speaking from the heart.

Jemele

I very much appreciate that she took the time to write back, although she didn’t say much. Since she took the time to write back, I thought it would be good to take the time to go back and review her columns and see how she’s doing. Let’s go into the wayback machine and look at her work. Below are her columns on ESPN.com so far.

Just an ol’ Jock Fight - This is her most recent work and it’s about the Knicks-Nuggets fight. She says it was a just a fight between jocks and not a big deal. Ms. Hill also obliquely refers to what may be subconscious racism caused by the use of the word ‘thug.’ I tend to agree with her on these two points and that may color my view of this article, but I think she makes some very good points.

These Guys Are Teflon - This article is about people/athletes she perceives to never have bad stories stick to them. Chief among them for her is David Stern, who she thinks isn’t getting flak for the whole NBA ball fiasco. She calls this skill having “the hook up.” She has a point about Stern but her argument seems to overlook a significant point, namely, that all the other people she names are athletes and their personal travails are not the most important thing to the public—their ability to play a sport is the most important. Second, the people she lists, save Ray Lewis, haven’t done anything too horrific and the public want to like the athletes so they give one or two free passes to them. Given time and enough screw-ups all of these people will use up their political capital, so to speak.

Look at Rosie O’donnell and her bad Chinese joke, she was in hot water because her role is as a talk show host who gives opinions and pontificates on subjects. Shaq, Clemens and others’ who have made borderline racist comments about Asians only have to play a sport. What they say is ancillary to what they do on the field/court/diamond. Interesting concept but a flawed argument.

NFL Selling Smith Short - This story is about how the NFL is under-appreciating Ohio State QB Troy Smith because he has great stats and just wins games. Well, she has a point but Smith did have a lot of other world-class weapons on his team. Put some of these other quarterbacks in the same situation and I wonder how they would do. Also, it’s a bit early to say he is undervalued since I saw one draftboard that had Smith listed as the #2 QB available. Average marks for this one.

Hnida finds peace in telling story – This article is about the first woman to score in Division I-A football, who was at the center of the Colorado recruiting scandal a few years back because she was raped. This was an attempt at providing an update and a new angle on an old story. It was a good effort and poignant because of the tragedy suffered by Hnida. However, and I don’t want to be harsh here, but Ms. Hill injected her own tragic experience into the story, which really has nothing to do with the Hnida story. Yes, it shows she can relate but doesn’t add anything to the story and seems to be emotional pandering.

Not as simple as black or white - Ms. Hill calls out Larry Johnson for his comment that he plays better for a black coach, Herm Edwards, than a white coach, Dick Vermeil, because they have a common experience of being black. I have to say, this was a very good article and it is nice when athletes get called on their BS and hypocrisy.

Groupie Life An Open Book - Ms. Hill argues that pro-athlete groupies are not living up to their end of the bargain when they publish books about the trysts they have with athletes. I am not sure whether this was tongue-in-cheek or serious but my inability to discover the truth makes this an absolutely awful column. I don’t know how a woman can argue that these men should be allowed to use and abuse groupies and at least tacitly support these women essentially prostituting themselves. Utter trash.

A Whistle is a Whistle – Ms. Hill believes that Tom Izzo taking the reins of the Michigan State football program isn’t such a bad idea because great coaches are great leaders, like Izzo, and that will translate to any sport. Interesting argument but I don’t buy since all great coaches have some intuitive knowledge of X’s and O’s for their respective sports as well as being good leaders/managers. She gets good marks for originality even though I disagree.

I’m hearing voices - Ms. Hill’s first article. Lame gimmick introducing herself but I’ll give her a break for her first column even if her jokes fell flat.

Overall, she has improved with her posts and ideas but, I still find her writing lacking in something and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think it lacks personality and heart despite her attempts to write in an informal, almost conversational, manner (which, by the way, I can’t stand). Her reasoning often has flaws, in my opinion, but she does make good points. I’m willing to give her some more time to develop her voice but not enough to write another post about it.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Euro Club Roundup #10

Wow. It's been a while since I've done this update. Just to recap: I have selected one soccer team from each of the "major" leagues in Europe to follow and support this season in the hope to better know each of the leagues and the teams. My teams are: Liverpool in the EPL, Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga, AS Roma in Serie A and Valencia in La Liga. Here's a quick status check for each of the teams:

Liverpool: After a horrendous start to the campaign, the Reds have moved into 4th on goal differential in the EPL. However, it is unlikely the squad will be able to catch ManU who leads Liverpool by 16 points. The team has also advanced to the Round of 16 in the Champions League after winning its group.

Roma: The Italian side sits in second in Serie A, seven points adrift of Inter Milan. Roma also managed to advance to the Round of 16 in the Champions League after place second in its group to Valencia...

Valencia: After a torrid beginning to the season, the Ches sit in ninth in La Liga. The squad has been decimated by injuries and hopefully it can recover.

Hertha: The German squad is in fifth in the Bundesliga and has crashed out of the UEFA Cup already. So, here's hoping the team can make a run and qualify for next year's Champions League.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Not Dead!

I'm not dead, yet. I've just been really busy with work and moving into a new house. The home internet isn't set up yet. Hopefully soon and back to my blogging ways.

Monday, November 27, 2006

This NFL Season Isn't As Bad As I Thought It Was

I was all set to write a post about how disappointing the current NFL season has been about two weeks ago, but upon further reflection I realized that there are a few great storylines and just the general disappointment about the lack of consistent and quality team performances. Let’s start with the poor consistency afflicting the NFL.

As I see it, there are only two teams that really have it together—the Chargers and Colts—and all the rest are either hot and cold or just plain bad. Even these two have their faults. The Colts have a sieve for a defense and the Chargers defense has been poor of late and the team only seems to play well after falling in a hole. Every other team has even worse problems.

The Bears and Rex Grossman, after a great start, have shown themselves to be quite inconsistent on offense. New England is winning but it hasn’t been pretty. Same with Baltimore. Last year’s Super Bowl participants have been anything but championship worthy. Seattle is barely leading a division with San Francisco, Arizona and St. Louis in it and Pittsburgh is 4-7. Although the injury bug as hurt both teams, especially Ben Roethlisberger whose run-in with a car windshield and appendectomy seem to have sapped him of his winning ways. Not to mention the maddeningly inconsistent Panthers, Bengals, Cowboys, Jaguars and woeful Giants. And don’t forget the now forgettable Eagles.

After this superficial examination, I found that there are several great stories this season. At the head of the class is Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson. This season the new LT is a man among boys collecting TDs like they were Beanie Babies in the late 90s. He has 25 touchdowns with five games to go; he is the third leading rusher in the NFL; and, he has thrown for a couple scores as well. Bar none, LT is the best player in the NFL right now and by the end of his career will be one of the all-time greatests. Unfortunately, LT’s season is overshadowing a pretty good season for Larry Johnson, the leading NFL rusher, who has led a resurgent Chiefs team to playoff contention.

A former Charger is having a great season as well. Drew Brees signed with the Saints after suffering an injury in his final game of last season and San Diego decided to go with Philip Rivers as the QB of the future. Brees is leading the league in passing yards and is leading the Saints towards the playoffs. Moreover, Brees is throwing to 7th Round Rookie-wonder Marques Colston who is having a ROY-type season. This is certainly proof that Brees wasn’t a fluke for San Diego the past two seasons and is great for the New Orleans franchise which hasn’t had much good luck recently. (And don’t look now but Joey Harrington is starting to redeem himself in Miami right now.)

Finally, after several seasons of two, three and four wins, the San Francisco 49ers appear to be turning the corner. The Niners are only 5-6 but this is far greater than anybody expected and the team is theoretically in contention for a wild card spot. This rebirth has been fueled by RB Frank Gore, who had two knee major injuries at Miami and ended up behind Willis McGahee on the depth chart. Gore is the second leading rusher in the league and hopefully, for this Niner fan, will help turn the team into a playoff team.

It just goes to show how great the NFL is that even with a down season overall in quality, the league can still deliver compelling stories.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Joey Harrington Is A Genius

There hasn’t been too many times that you could say the above about Joey Harrington since he entered the NFL as the third pick of the Detroit Lions in the 2002 NFL Draft. He has been a resounding disappointment for his entire career. But, his decision to sign with Miami makes him look at least somewhat savvy since he is the current starter over Miami’s other off-season quarterback acquisition, Daunte Culpepper. This brilliant decision making has gone unnoticed for far too long and I am here to bring attention to it. Although, it’s not like he is really tearing it up as a starter in Miami.

While in Detroit, Harrington had a career record as a starter of 18-37, more interceptions than touchdowns and a fairly low passer rating. Because of this ineptitude Detroit traded him to the Miami Dolphins during the 2006 off-season. These certainly aren’t numbers that could win him a starting job in the NFL and he knew it. There were a number of teams (Cincinnati, Denver and Miami) he could have signed with but he would have been a backup at each team. However, he determined that his best chance to win back a starting role (presuming that is what he wanted) would be in Miami behind Culpepper. So, for once in his career Harrington has made the correct read, although he "won" the starting job after Culpepper was benched with an injury, and let's praise him for it.

By the way, what the hell is up with the new hair-do for Harrington? He kinda has a Keanu Reeves look going on.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Neil Everett The Poet

Yesterday, incredibly tragic news came out of Coral Gables, Miami. Senior Miami defensive end Brian Pata was shot and killed in a presumed homicide. Awful, just awful news. So, I watched the 11 p.m. Pacific SportsCenter and Neil Everett leads off with this.
Brian Pata was shot in the head.
And, now he's dead.

You stay classy, Neil Everett. Seriously, couldn't he come up with something that didn't rhyme and was maybe a bit more, uh, respectful?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Vegas, Baby! Vegas!

SI.com writer Ian Thomsen wrote an interesting article full of all sorts of NBA goodies, particularly the following little story about Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman lobbying the NBA for a Vegas franchise:
The Las Legas mayor, a former mob lawyer, is intent on recruiting a pro sports
franchise. Goodman recently returned from a tour of the NBA's preseason training
camps in Europe -- accompanied by a pair of Vegas showgirls named Pam and
Porsche
-- where he lobbied Stern and NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver,
informing them that he has commissioned an arena study that is expected to recommend by year's end a site (probably in downtown Las Vegas) for a new building. (emphasis added)
So that's how they do it? At least the Mayor is upfront about what he is willing to do for the Commissioner to get a team. There is no beating around the bush, so-to-speak.

Coach Fight!

In Sunday's Arsenal - West Ham United match, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and West Ham manager Alan Pardew had a little dust-up after West Ham went up 1-0 in the 89th minute. I could understand Wenger being upset because of losing to lowly West Ham, but a physical altercation? That's awesome! Predictably, the two didn't shake hands after the match. But, Pardew has extended an apology to Wenger. (The fight is at about the 1:00 minute mark.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This Is One Euro Fad I Hope Doesn't Catch On

On Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League Liverpool defeated Bordeaux 3-0. It was a great match for Liverpool but it was marred with an ugly incident. Bordeaux's Brazilian midfielder Fernando Menegazzo headbutted Liverpool's Norwegian international John Arne Riise. This was worse than the Zidane headbutt in the World Cup final because Menegazzo went head-to-head with Riise and drew blood. If this is the latest craze in European sports, then I hope it doesn't come to the U.S.

Highlights from the match are below and the headbutt is at the 1:15 mark.


NBA Season Already?

The Blazers season opener against Seattle is tonight and it is the first time in several years that I am looking forward to the season, although it will probably end up as a losing season. The reason for this optimism? Well, it boils down to what I perceive as a change in direction of the franchise. It was hoped that this change had started several seasons ago but the front office seemed to bungle all the chances it had with poor draft choices and foolishly overpaying players like Darius Miles and Zach Randolph.

Although Miles and Randolph are still on the team, the rest of squad appears to be made of good character and a willingness to put the team before itself. Rookie Brandon Roy is also a light of hope because he appears to be a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate, a team player and a high character guy. LaMarcus Aldridge, another rookie, seems to be in the same mold. Second year players Jarrett Jack and Martell Webster also give me hope for a brighter future because they have improved their game in the offseason.

Finally, although I am loathe to admit it, Zach Randolph may actually be a bright spot for the team. Maybe with Miles out indefinitely with a knee injury and ZBo being the only real scoring threat Randolph can show that he can be a good character and that he is fully recovered from his microfracture surgery. His teammates seem to believe in him this year and have voted him co-captain with Pryzbilla.

So, here's to the future and hopefully an entertaining season by Portland.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tom Jackson: "Look, I can use big words, too!"

This Tiki Barber retirement story just keeps getting better and better. First, it is reported, kind of out of the blue, that Tiki will retire after the season. Then, Tom Jackson and Michael Irvin both say that this will be a distraction/won't help the Giants. Then, Tiki gets on his high horse and calls these two idiots and uses a big word that most NFL players would never use.

That includes Tom Jackson on ESPN. That includes the ultimate character guy, facetiously speaking of course, Michael Irvin (ESPN). Please get a clue on how to be a journalist.


Fantastic! I'm sure neither one of these guys likes to get called out like that, although Irvin might not know what facetiously means since he did attend Tha U (Univ. of Miami that is, lately better known for stomping on people than anything else). Tom Jackson decided that he had to
respond and try to look intelligent by using more big words.

"I was asked an opinion about a subject, just the way he is often asked an
opinion about a myriad of topics, a plethora of things," Jackson told The Post.

Way to go Tom! You know how to use a dictionary and look like an asshat too! You know, back in school, people who used big words just to show off their impressive vocabulary were still tools.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

In Today's Least Surprising News...

FIFA revealed that, shockingly, soccer players were taking dives in the World Cup and feigning injuries.

'Fifty-eight per cent of the players who were treated on the pitch during the 2006 World Cup eventually turned out not to be injured,' confirmed FIFA in a statement.
Wow. I'm glad it only took them 4 months to do the research and compile a report saying this. I could have told you this after watching this Cristiano Ronaldo video below. This is an even better video but Youtube won't let me post it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hi. My name is The Fan’s Attic and I’m a Terrell Owens fan.

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while now but I recently had a little online discussion with Mr. Irrelevant regarding the best WRs of this generation and I thought I should post it after that. First, though, here is a little recap of what brought this about.

Mr. Irrelevant argued that Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt are the best and he excluded Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, and Steve Smith because they are either inconsistent or have had brief careers. I disagreed and said that Owens (and probably Moss) should be included in any discussion about the best WRs of this generation based on their stats and he responded. See here. Mister Irrelevant gave additional reasons for their exclusion: being bad teammates, missing games and having “clunker” seasons in their careers.

My brief (and probably inadequate) response to his rebuttal: Owens has produced 5 Pro Bowl seasons since 2000 (the year he really stopped being second fiddle to Jerry Rice) and if the Philadelphia situation had played out differently he would have had another one in 2005. Holt, Harrison, and Moss have 4, 7 and 7 respectively. So, there isn’t really a statistical clunker for Owens save last season’s debacle since early in his career. Over the course of his career Owens has missed 18 games, 9 of which came from the suspension last year, compared to 6, 2 and 3 for Harrison, Holt and Moss. By far the most but he is by far the most physical of these receivers and that has to play into the injury situation. And, as far as bad teammates go, I can’t really argue that because he obviously isn’t one of the best but at least he has a passion for the game.

So, that leads me to my explanation of why I am a Terrell Owens fan.

Quite simply, I love the way Owens plays football. I’ll admit his off-field antics are distracting but I don’t care about that. I like players who play with passion, make big plays, and will do the dirty work. Owens does this; he catches the ball, he is a deep threat, scores touchdowns, goes across the middle and is a good blocker for a wide receiver. Quite simply, he is the most complete receiver in the game and is the prototype for many of the receivers these days: big, fast and athletic.

Moreover, he has an extreme passion to win and you can see this in his sideline antics. He just wants to win. He is a big-play receiver and getting the ball to him will most likely only help you win. I admire this trait in him because I think at this point in many of the NFL players’ careers they don’t have the same desire as Owens.

Finally, the guy is tough as nails. Remember his recovery from a broken ankle to play in the Super Bowl? How about the fact that he is playing with a plate in his hand right now? He didn’t miss a game with a broken finger (thanks to the bye week). He just wants to be on the field and make plays. I can hang with that.

Now, I have admitted that I like Terrell Owens and there aren’t many of us in existence but I am ok with it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

He's The Eldest And Younger Brother At The Same Time?

The Winslow family suffered a great loss recently with HOF Tight End Kellen Winslow, Sr. lost his son Justin K.B. Winslow suddenly. The death is under investigation and I wish the Winslow family all the best in this hard time for them and I don't mean to make light of the situation but the SI.com article was a bit confusing.

Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. attended a funeral on Tuesday for his younger brother, Justin K.B. Winslow, who died suddenly last week in Kansas City, Mo. He was 23. The eldest son of Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow Sr. was found unconscious on Oct. 12 by his mother, Dawnn Wimes O'Bannon.

So, Justin was Kellen Winslow, Jr.'s "younger brother" and the "eldest son" of Kellen Winslow, Sr.? How does that work? Methinks the editor messed up.

'Boom Goes The Dynamite' Goes Mainstream

In this little insular world of sports blogging there are many inside jokes that take a long time to explain to others and are usually not as funny to those receiving the explanation. Consequently, it is probably better not to explain and not include them on the joke. But, every once in a while, if we are lucky, the inside joke escapes the blogging bubble and hits the so-called 'mainstream' and may require some explanation. Recently, one of these moments occurred on the teen show "Veronica Mars" on the CW and I had to give an explanation as to why I was keeled over with laughter.

Before you watch the clip, I suggest checking out the classically bad amateur sports broadcaster who originated the "boom goes the dynamite" phrase, here, especially if you're not familiar with the reference.

Now, see it, in the mainstream below. Big thanks to Deadspin commenter Scotty_Cooper for pointing me to this clip.

Monday, October 16, 2006

John Terry: Chelsea's New Netminder

This past weekend Chelsea played Reading in a Premiership match, which Chelski won 1-0. It was an incredibly strange game for Chelsea that ended with the English skipper minding net in the dying minutes of the match. Here's the video story of how Terry became keeper:

1. Keeper stud Petr Cech suffers a serious injury--a depressed skull fracture that Jose Mourinho believed almost killed Cech. Hopefully, Cech will make a full recovery.


2. Backup goalie Carlo Cudicini gets knocked out in injury time. It is questionable whether Cudicini will be ready for the massive Champions League tilt against Barcelona on Wednesday.


3. John Terry fills in and wraps up the victory.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Euro Club Roundup #9

Still alive. I've just been really busy recently. Just some quick hits here for each of my teams:

Liverpool--the team still is really inconsistent, sitting mid-table and 8 points back of leaders Chelsea and ManU. Benitez really needs to get a good line-up and stick with it rather than constantly tinkering.
Hertha--the squad lost to Bayern Munich this weekend and tumbled from the top of the table to 7th, but that is only 3 points back. Hertha also crashed out of the UEFA Cup tournament recently. That means the squad only has Bundesliga to worry about now.
AS Roma--Still atop Serie A but recently lost to Valencia in the Champions League group play.
Valencia--the Ches were in first in La Liga, but a loss to mid-table Celta Vigo today and a likely win by Barca over Sevilla will drop the to second or third.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Randy Moss, You Could Learn Something From Joey Barton

Randy Moss could learn a thing or two from Manchester City player, Joey Barton, who showed Everton fans his pasty white ass this past weekend. Barton could face suspension for his actions, I hope it was worth it.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Tiger Woods, Bandwagon Fan?

Let me just get this out there up front, I am a Tiger Woods fan and will always be one, but, as a sports fan I question his sports "fandom." Recently, Tiger has been spotted supporting some high profile athletes and teams. He was seen in Roger Federer's tennis box at the U.S. Open, while Federer was battling American Andy Roddick. Tiger was also the personal guest of Andriy Shevchenko at a recent Chelsea soccer match. Both Chelsea and Federer are teams/athletes at the pinnacle of their respective sports. Federer has 9 of 12 grand slam events and Chelsea has won the last two Premiership titles. Frankly, I don't think Tiger is a big fan of tennis and certainly not soccer after his recent comments and being seen at these events opens him to criticism as bandwagon fan. Ultimately, I think Tiger's ability to be a sports fan is a result of his personal make-up and he may not be able to help it, but it is subject to criticism. (Although, I will allow that Tiger could say he has always been a fan but I would skeptical.) Let me explain.

First, Tiger is one of, if not the, greatest golfers of all time and one of the most talented athletes ever. If he is not already deserving, Tiger will soon be in the pantheon of all-time greats where his peers will be Jordan, Ali, Nicklaus and others. Because of this, Tiger might have difficulty being a fan of anybody who is not at the pinnacle of performance in their sports.

Second, during his career Tiger has proven himself to be the ultimate frontrunner. He always wins the majors with a 54-hole lead. In spite of, or maybe because of, this, he hasn't demonstrated the ability to come from behind to win any of these and he wins most of his other events by going into the final round with a share of the lead. Woods' outstanding abililty always puts him out front and he probably can't relate to teams/athletes that come from behind, he just doesn't do that.

Now, Tiger can support whomever he pleases but his "fandom" seems to be front-runners and established superstars/powers. I would bet good money that Tiger is a Yankees, Lakers, Heat, or any other perennial or current power in a sport. I can just see Tiger, two years ago, doffing a Red Sox cap and being a bandwagon fan so many despise. I'd just like to see Tiger select a rooting interest where winning or greatness is occasional and not the norm. Maybe he can't fight his tendencies but it would be easier to relate to him if he did.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Euro Club Roundup #8

This week in the Roundup will be short and sweet—i.e. no links. Last week started off well with three of the four teams I’m supporting in the top spots in their respective leagues. Only Liverpool had been underperforming. Although, the last two matches have been wins for the Reds and the team looks like it is rounding into form and moving up in the table.

Hertha Berlin is the shocker of the group holding the top spot in the Bundesliga earlier this week. But, a draw on Sunday put them in third. Hertha has a UEFA Cup match this week and needs a win to advance after a draw in the first leg. Roma was in first place in Serie A but lost to Inter and is back in second. Valencia is also in a three-way tie for the lead after a tough away draw against Barca. This week Valencia and Roma are matched against each other in Champions League play and Liverpool will be facing Turkish squad Galatasaray.s

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Grading SI Fantasy Predictions for Week 2

This week there were no Fantasy Football predictions in the print version of SI but there were some on the website. The results weren’t very good. Overall 28 out of 56 earned a plus mark for being pretty much on. This was a little worse than last week’s grades of 22 out of 42. The Sit ‘Em grades were great and Start ‘Em were ok but Peter King and Joe Levit have no business making FF predictions based on this week’s grades.

Again, I don’t play Fantasy Football so my understanding of the scoring systems are very rudimentary and any input/disagreement/etc. from the readers is appreciated.

Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em 22/34. Better than last week but the Start ‘Em grades are not good and the Sleeper and Bust picks were both off.

Start ‘Em 8/16. Not as good as the Sit ‘Em predictions.
(+) Donovan McNabb, PHI – 27/45, 350 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT: a nice resurgence for McNabb in the first two weeks.
(+) Daunte Culpepper, MIA - 23/32, 250 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT: the numbers aren’t bad but in the game he was not great.
(-) Steve McNair, BAL – 16/33 143 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT: he ran a good game but low fantasy numbers.
(+) Drew Brees, NO – 26/41, 353 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT: any decent quarterback will have good numbers against the GB defense.
(+) Julius Jones, DAL – 20 car, 94 yds, 0 TD
(-) Willie Parker, PIT – 11 car, 20 yds, 0 TD
(-) Cadillac Williams, TB – 15 carries, 37 yds, 0 TDs
(-) Ronnie Brown, MIA – 15 car, 70 yds, 0 TD
(-) Vernon Davis, SF – 0 rec, 0 yds
(-) Chris Baker, NYJ – 1 rec, 5 yds
(-) Rod Smith, DEN – 2 rec, 16 yds, 0 TD
(+) Darrell Jackson, SEA – 5 rec, 127 yds, 1 TD: great game, wait to see how Branch affects his numbers later.
(+) Isaac Bruce, STL – 5 rec, 77 yds: barely a plus. how did SF hold the Rams to such a low output?
(+) Joe Horn, NO – 5 rec, 88 yds
(-) Neil Rackers, AZ – 1/3 FG, 1/1 XP
(+) Bears Defense – 230 yds passing 0 TD 0 INT, 46 yds rushing 1 TD, 7 points

Sit ‘Em 14/16 right.
(+) Byron Leftwich, JAX – 26/39 260 yds, 1 INT, 0 TD: numbers weren’t bad but no TD.
(+) Trent Green, KC – DNP: boy that was a tough prediction…
(+) Jon Kitna, DET – 23/30, 230 yds, 0 TDs, 0 INTs: not bad, but not great.
(+) Chris Simms, TB – 28/53, 313 yds, 0 TDs, 3 INTs
(-) Corey Dillon, NE – 20 car, 80 yds, 1 TD: Dillon is a tough call b/c Maroney will be taking some carries.
(+) Wali Lundy, HOU – 6 car, 25 yds, 0 TD: last week this guy was supposed to be a great pickup and now you sit him. Thanks for the advice last week.
(+) Chris Brown, TEN – 6 car, 9 yds, 0 TD
(+) Kevin Jones, DET – 12 car, 44 yds, 0 TDs
(+) Chris Cooley, WAS – 1 rec, 23 yds, 0 TD
(+) Heath Miller, PIT – 1 rec, 11 yds, 0 TD
(+) Randy Moss, OAK – 2 rec, 32 yds, 0 TD
(-) Joey Galloway, TB – 9 rec, 161 yds, 0 TDs: funny how Chris Simms is so bad but Galloway delivers good numbers.
(+) Marty Booker, MIA – 3 rec, 33 yds, 0 TD
(+) Roy Williams, DET – 6 rec, 71 yds: tough call but not many yards and no TD
(+) Stephen Gostkowski, NE – 1/2 FG, 3/3 XP
(+) Broncos Defense – 133 yds passing, 0 TD, 0 INT; 145 yds rushing, 0 TD, 2 FG, 6 points: Good thing Denver has a good defense right now because the offense sucks.

(-) Super Sleeper – Dominic Rhodes, IND – 14 car, 37 yds, 1 TD
(-) Beware of Bust – Warrick Dunn, TB – 21 carries, 134 yds, 0 TDs: how wrong were they?

Joe Levit – Surprise Starters 3/12…really bad.

(+) Brett Favre, GB – 31/55, 340 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
(-) Jake Plummer, DEN – 16/30, 173 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT: couldn’t be more wrong.
(-) Correll Buckhalter, PHI – 6 car, 6 yds, 0 TD
(-) Dominic Rhodes, IND - 14 car, 37 yds, 1 TD
(+) Michael Turner, SD – 13 car, 138 yds, 0 TD: good call on this one.
(+) Troy Williamson, MIN – 6 rec, 102 yds, 0 TD
(-) Lee Evans, BUF – 2 rec, 19 yds
(-) Marty Booker, MIA – 3 rec, 33 yds, 0 TD
(-) Ben Utecht, IND – 1 rec, 26 yds, 0 TD
(-) Itula Mili, SEA – 0 rec, 0 yds
(-) Jason Hanson, DET – 0/1 FG, 1/1 XP
(-) SF Defense – 185 yds passing, 1 TD; 118 yds rush; 0 INT, 1 Fumble recovery, 1 FG, 10 Points


Peter King Recommendations 3/10…way to go PK…why don’t you just focus on Brett Favre a little more?
(+) Chris Henry, CIN – 5 rec, 113 yds, 0 TDs
(-) Clinton Portis, WAS – (good upside, worth risk) DNP
(-) Brad Johnson, MIN – 19/31, 243 yds, 1 INT, 0 TD
(-) Marc Bulger, STL – 19/34 185 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT
(+) Steve Smith, CAR – (don’t play him), DNP
(-) Brandon Jacobs, NYG – 5 car, 35 yds, 0 TD
(-) Tom Brady, NE – 15/29, 220 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT: not great fantasy numbers but still a good game for Brady.
(--) Terrell Owens, DAL – (overpay for him, he’ll produce) 3 rec, 19 yds, 0 TD: PK was off with this one by a long shot.
(+) SD Defense – 163 yds passing, 2 INT, 1 TD; 55 yds rushing, 0 TD, 7 points: not tough when they play Tennessee.
(-) Chris Simms, TB (play him) - 28/53, 313 yds, 0 TDs, 3 INTs: thanks for the tip PK. No, really.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Euro Club Roundup #7

This Roundup is quite late, but as I noted in another post, it has been a busy week and this has been delayed. For those of you who may not know, this is an endeavor on my part to better know European Soccer teams and leagues. I have selected a team from each of the main four leagues to support and follow and each week I do a roundup. So far I have found it quite rewarding because I have followed several leagues and learned a great deal about other teams. On the other hand, it sucks up my time quite quickly. Anyway, on to last week's goings-on.

AS Roma

Roma won 4-0 in its opening match in group play in the Champions League over Shakhtar Donesk. Roma also opened Serie A play with a 2-0 victory over Livorno.

Hertha

The Berlin side struggled to a 2-2 draw against Danish side OB Odense. Hertha did squeak out a 1-0 victory over Darmstadt 98 in the German Cup match.

Liverpool

It was not a pretty week for the Reds. First, in the Merseyside Derby Everton thumped Liverpool 3-0 for the teams worst loss in the derby in over 40 years. Then, the team played a lifeless 0-0 draw against PSV Eindhoven in its first match of Champions League group play. Even more amazing was the Steven Gerrard didn’t start and played only 20 minutes, although he was being rested for the upcoming tie with Chelsea. That said, if Liverpool can beat Chelsea all will be well. All was not bad this week because Liverpool did receive a go-ahead for a new stadium.

Valencia

Valencia won its second straight to open the La Liga season 1-0 over Atletico Madrid. Liverpool castoff Fernando Morientes scored a hat-trick in Valencia’s 4-2 victory over Olympiakos Piraeus in Champions League group play.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Grading SI Fantasy Predictions for Week 1

The start of the NFL Season marks the beginning of the Fantasy Football season. To capitalize on the FF buzz SI has started its own section, Fantasy Plus, to lure in readers by providing hints and predictions. There were many predictions, recommendations for starting and sitting, and sleepers or busts for Week 1 (W1) and these are my grades of each of those in a simple plus/minus format. There were 42 different predictions/recommendations and 22 received a plus for being accurate with one being borderline. SI's 'experts' got barely more than 50% of them correct. I would expect more.

Disclaimer: I don't play FF, so my understanding of the scoring systems are rudimentary. If I get something wrong let me know.

Predictions
Eli Manning will have more yards than Peyton
(-) Peyton outpassed Eli 276 to 247.
Colt’s will beat Giants barely
(+) Colts won 26-21 in a close game.
Lions’ RB Kevin Jones will not rush for 80 yards vs. Seattle
(+) Jones only had 35 yards rushing.
Jones will not be a factor in the 4th quarter
(?) hard to tell since he had so few yards but game was still close in the 4th.
Shaun Alexander will outrush Kevin Jones by 80 yards
(-) Alexander only had 51 yards rushing.
Alexander will sit much of 4th quarter
(-) not with a close game.
Fantasy Owners will scramble to pick up Houston RB Wali Lundy after W1
(-) not after 32 yds on 11 carries.
Fantasy Owners will scramble to pick up SF WR Antonio Bryant after W1
(+) 4 receptions for 114 yards.
Bears will shut out Packers and beginning of long year for Favre
(++) hard to pick a shutout and Favre didn’t look good.
Cowboys will shut out Jacksonville and will be start of good year for Dallas defense
(-) no dice when JAX wins.
Brian Westbrook, PHI, will show no ill effects from sprained foot
(+) 61 yards receiving and 71 yards rushing.
Donovan McNabb will be PHI star
(+) 314 yds passing, 3 TDs, 1 int.
Lee Evans will have 100 yards receiving vs Patriots
(-) not with 25 yds receiving
Evans’ yards will come in garbage time
(-) no garbage time in the 19 – 17 NE win.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI, will have 100 yards receiving vs SF
(+) 133 yds receiving.
Anquan Boldin, ARI, will have 100 yards receiving vs. SF
(-) 62 yds receiving.
W1 Fantasy MVP will be Rudi Johnson, CIN, 140 yds & 3 TDs.
(-) there were better performers than 96 yds rushing and 1 TD, but still not bad.

Super Sleeper – Kurt Warner, ARI
(+) 301 yds passing, 3 TDs, 1 int
W1 Bust – Steve Smith, CAR
(+) Smith did not play.

Start ‘Em
Drew Bledsoe, DAL –
(-) 246 yds passing, 1 TD, 3 ints.
Willie Parker, PIT –
(+) 115 yds rushing, but no TDs.
Brian Westbrook, PHI –
(+) 61 yds receiving, 71 yds rushing,
Reggie Wayne, IND –
(-) 67 yds receiving, no TDs
Javon Walker, DEN –
(-) 3 for 41 yards, no TDs
Matt Stover, BAL –
(+) 2/2 FGs, 3/3 PATS
Thomas Jones, CHI –
(-) 21 rushes for 63 yds, no TDs.
Carson Palmer, CIN –
(-) 127 yds passing, no TDs
Reuben Droughns, CLE –
(-) 11 rushes for only 27 yds
Roy Williams, DET –
(-) 36 yds receiving, no TDs
Kellen Winslow, CLE –
(+) 63 yds receiving, 1 TD
PHI Defense –
(+) 10 points allowed, 208 yds passing, 70 yds rushing

Sit ‘Em
Daunte Culpepper, MIA –
(+) 262 yds passing, but no TDs and 2 ints.
Chris Simms, TB –
(+) 133 yds passing, 3 ints.
Ahman Green, GB –
(-) 110 yds rushing, no TDs
Willis McGahee, BUF –
(+) 70 yds rushing but no TDs.
Lamont Jordan, OAK --
(+) 20 yds rushing, noTDs.
Hines Ward, PIT –
(+) 53 yds receiving, no TDs
David Givens, TEN –
(+) 27 yds receiving, no TDs
Andre Johnson, HOU –
(-) 101 yds receiving, no TDs
Alex Smith, TB –
(+) 18 yds receiving, no TDs
Adam Vinatieri, IND –
(-) 4/4 FGs, 2/2 XPs
NY Giants Defense –
(+) 272 yds passing, 55 yds rushing, 26 points in loss, 1 int.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ch-ch-ch-ch-chaaaanges!

Things are going to be different around here in the near future. Well, maybe not that different just less posting. I have secured myself full-time employment so I can't spend my days surfing the net for sports stories and writing about it here. I also have a contract project that needs to be completed in about a month on top of my full-time job. I will also be the Weekend Contributor on a new sports website, Dejuiced.com. And, on top of all that my outdoor soccer season starts this weekend and continues for the next 10 weeks.

So, I will be very busy in the near future, which will force me to better manage my time. I will try to post two-three times a week and I can be found on the weekends at Dejuiced.com. Just bear with me while everything gets sorted out.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Deadspin HOF Induction Ceremony...How It Went

One of my favorite websites, Deadspin.com, just turned one year old yesterday. In honor of the milestone, Will Leitch, the editor, created a hall of fame for Deadspin and allowed the readers to select the inductees. The ballot boxes have been stuffed and seven people/incidents have been elected to the inaugural HOF class. Here is how the ceremony went:

The Deadspin Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is the culmination of one year of inappropriate jokes, sports voyeurism and unbridled commenting genius on Deadspin.com. Appropriately enough, the ceremony takes place in the Berea Public Library, the scene of Inductee Carl Monday's greatest work of investigative journalism.

To start things off, Will Leitch, the President and Founding Member of the Deadspin Hall of Fame walks onto the dais to call together the audience to begin the ceremonies but Chris Berman jumps up to the podium before Will and announces the commencement of the ceremonies. Will points out to Berman that Barbaro is in the audience wearing leather pants and Berman waddles off distractedly towards the legendary horse to work his magic.

As Will begins the day’s events there is a scuffle by the library entrance with loud cries of “I’m a combat vet!!” The illustrious Mike Cooper and his father are attempting to gain entrance to the library for Coop’s day of glory. But, Carl Monday and his moustache have ambushed the pair with microphone in hand and camera in tow as Mike’s mother drops them off in the minivan. Carl has brought along the police in an attempt to get Cooper into more trouble by tattling about his frequenting of a place where children congregate. As the two try to enter the Berea Public Library Monday begins asking pointed questions like “Do you still have sex with yourself, Mike?” After which Cooper’s father grabbed the microphone from Carl Monday and chucked it across the parking lot with mini-Cooper screaming “Get the hell away from me, Carl Monday!!”

During this fiasco Southeast Jerome and Coach Janky Spanky arrive late to the ceremonies and attract Mr. Monday. In a pre-emptive strike Jerome told Carl that he was only “willing to talk X-rated shit.” Looking quite pleased, Carl Monday began his badgering of the Portis crew.

Off in the distance some more shouting breaks out as Kyle Orton has fallen off the hoochie dais in a drunken stupor. Jen P shouted “Hooray, bear! And, hooray, beer…I mean Jack!” from the commenter section. Bleeding from his elbows, Orton slowly picks himself up, dusts off his neckbeard and congratulates himself for only spilling Jack Daniels on his shirt and not on the floor.

As things started to settle down and Will began to restore order to the event another ruckus arose in the women’s bathroom. People were yelling. Cries of “hurry up!”, “get a room!” and “whores!” cascaded out of the tiny public restroom. Word that Renee Thomas and Angela Keathley were re-enacting the scene that led to their induction spread like wildfire in the crowd. Because most of the people in attendance have the maturity of a 15 year old there was an immediate exodus to the bathroom and people circled around the scene like it was a high school fight.

The bathroom was complete chaos. Angela’s eyes were rolling back into her head and she was moaning and you could see someone kneeling on the floor of the bathroom stall. Above the din of the crowd you could hear someone yelling, “I got this! I got this!” In a purple blur, Fred Smoot sprinted from the back with a large French baguette in a bag yelling for people to move out of the way. Jen P yelled, “Run!!! You stupid fucking purple dinosaur!! Run!!!”

As Smoot approached the stall, he revealed the contents of the bag—a gold, latex, double-ended dildo. He pressed his way to the front and ripped open the stall door revealing the sex act Carl Monday had been hoping for. Carl and his crew had managed to get right up to the stall but his questioning only resulted in the girls saying that they had to pee and asked him to leave them alone. Carl kept asking if they were going to drive but received no answer.

Smoot slowly approached the duo like he was stalking wild animals. Creeping up to Angela and Renee he made an offering of the dildo and the two began to accept. But, Smoot shook his head and said “I’m gonna be operating the device today ladies.” Apparently, the scene wasn’t that interesting to some because Daunte Culpepper was shooting dice in the corner. Mike Cooper had been forgotten in the hullabaloo and managed to sneak back to the scene of his infamy, the computer near the children’s section in the library. He displayed his left-handed prowess and finally felt a sense of relief that he had made it back.

As the Berea police department began to clear the scene and things died down, Chris Berman approached the Carolina cheerleaders and uttered his famous line, “You’re with me, leather?,” with a bit of uncertainty, but he was denied by the boys in blue. Will, sobbing gently in corner because the day had been ruined, let a small smile creep onto his face at the corners of his mouth as the tears on his cheeks dried. Why? Because this is the only way the Deadspin HOF induction ceremony could have gone down.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

How Do You Explain This?

So, I decide to check the interweb before I go to sleep and I found this wonderous story. The details are that a Detroit Lions assistant coach, Joe Cullen, has been arrested twice in the past two weeks, once for driving under the influence and another time for driving...wait for it...nude. Naked!! The guy was naked!! And, he got arrested for it!! Well, well, well, isn't he just mister friendly. I imagine that alcohol is involved in the decision to drive in the buff because if it isn't I can't think of too many legitimate explanations.

What I Want For NFL Christmas This Year

Tonight is like Christmas Eve for all the NFL fans out there. Tomorrow the first game will be played and we will all watch eagerly like kids on Christmas day. We all want to know the gifts our teams will present and whether they will be good or lumps of coal. For me, I am pretty sure I will be getting coal since my team is the San Francisco 49ers. However, there are five things I am looking forward to in the upcoming season. (These are in reverse order from 5 to 1 despite the numbering, which I can't figure out how to change.)

  1. The T.O. and Bill Parcells soap opera. I can’t wait to see how this turns out. I think it can end only in rags or riches, no middle ground. Whatever happens, it should be entertaining. I will be rooting for T.O. to win in his battle against Parcells, whatever winning ends up being. I admit it, I am a T.O. apologist, his on-field talent and theatrics trumps whatever else he has done.
  2. The Cincinnati Bengals’ Legal Problems. This off-season the Bengals became the new Jailblazers. I am sure that there will be plenty more of that to come and I wonder how it will affect the team. I just hope the legal issues continue to include BUIs (Boating instead of driving) and tasers.
  3. Reggie Bush. That’s it. Just him. The Saints will stink this year but the team will be watchable solely because of this guy. He has amazing talent and can make some players on the defensive side look really foolish. I just hope he pans out. The Texans made a huge mistake in passing on this guy.
  4. Another Sexboat or Cheerleader Scandal. The Vikings Sexboat issues and the Carolina Panthers’ cheerleaders sex scandal both made following the NFL much more titillating than in the past. Plus, the jokes were so good.
  5. Chad Johnson’s Touchdown Celebrations. Chad Johnson’s (and others) endzone dramas have become persona non grata in the NFL (No Fun League). The league passed some rules to limit the celebrations even more than before but CJ promises he knows how to get around the rules and avoid a fine. Hopefully he scores a lot because it will be fun seeing a bunch of old men squirm and vent about how CJ is making a mockery of the game.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Leave It To The Russians...

This story has just too many jokes and stereotypes in it to be real. But, Russian world champion and world record holder in the women's 400-meter Yuliya Pechonkina has ruined her season by putting too much vodka on her skin. No joke.
"I just burnt my skin by having too many of these vodka-soaked compresses," Pechonkina told the All Sport news agency. "It's too bad because I missed most of the year with this injury."

Those crazy Russians. I always thought you were supposed to drink vodka. Maybe this is another way to get more vodka into your system after imbibing as much the body will allow. I'll let the Russians' do the work on this one. I wonder if the authorities test for this as a performance enhancing drug. I mean, she is the world record holder.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Euro Club Roundup #6

Roundup #6 has club play on a break for Euro 2008 qualifying and international friendlies. But, it also saw the close of the transfer season. There was lots of big signings, i.e. Tevez and Mascherano for West Ham, but not much going on for the four clubs I have selected to follow this season.

AS Roma

Roma signed Rodrigo Defendi, the Tottenham defender was part of the deal sending Mido back to the Spurs. Roma also signed Serbian striker Mirko Vucinic. Roma defender Sammy Kufour has been loaned to Serie A team Livorno for one year.

Hertha

No significant news for the German side.

Liverpool

No significant developments at the close of transfer season but Liverpool teammates Peter “The Robot” Crouch and Steven Gerrard scored two and one goals respectively in England’s 5-0 win over Andorra.

Valencia

It looks like Roberto Ayala and Valencia have made nice after a contract dispute.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

This must be how Brazil felt after the World Cup

The USA basketball team won the bronze medal in the World Championships this weekend. This shouldn’t be surprising given the U.S. performances at the last Olympics and the 2002 World Championships where the team finished 3rd and 6th disrespectively. However, it is still a disappointment considering that the U.S. has, in my opinion, the most athletic and gifted basketball players in the world. Yet, we haven’t shown that on the international stage lately. At this point I care only if the US wins because anything else with the talent this team has is a failure. I imagine this is how Brazil felt after its national team was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the World Cup this year.

Brazil has dominated international soccer for the past 12 years, having appeared three WC finals and winning two. The team has some of the biggest stars and best players in the world with Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Kaka, Roberto Carlos, and so on. Just like the U.S. with LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, etc. Team USA also dominated the international basketball scene until recently. Despite the presence of superstars both of these squads failed to come together as teams that worked well together and dominate the competition as they should. Ultimately, I think it is this, the fact that these athletes cannot learn a system and operate within that system to achieve victory that is the most disappointing. Oh, and the inability to guard a simple pick and roll.

And so, a third place finish, which would please many other countries, does nothing for our country or me. We feel disappointed in the failure of our team but have become accustomed to our national teams performing poorly. The baseball team failed to place in the inaugural World Baseball Championships, the U.S. soccer team sorely disappointed in this year’s World Cup and our basketball team hasn’t won the Olympics or World Championships since 2000. All of this has led us to become completely disinterested if our team doesn’t win it all, which I think is how Brazilians probably felt this year.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Just A Little Pressure On These Guys

I guess this week is the week that I reveal I watch some of the worst programs on television. Earlier I admitted that I watch the atrocity that is Laguna Beach and now I am going to admit I have watched the new MTV show ‘Two-a-days’ which chronicles the alleged number one high school football team in the nation, Hoover High, its players and the events surrounding their lives.

The show isn’t that great but you wouldn’t really expect it to be very good. There are many things wrong with doing a show like this and broadcasting the team’s games on ESPN but many have already covered those topics. I just want to say how utterly crazy the parents, coaches and community are about this team.

In one brief period, the family of one of the best players on the team had its dinner interrupted by a call from the coach who bitched to the step-dad about how the player had sucked at practice, the step-dad told the player he had to step it up and then said the player couldn’t have any pressure on him since he was only 18. Uh? Let’s see, coach calls to interrupt dinner about a few weak practices and has to get the step-dad to lean on the kid; there are cameras following around the kid recording his every move; his high school team will be playing on ESPN; and, the kid is probably trying to get a scholarship to pay for college. Nope, no pressure here.

I grew up in a football crazy community and my high school team was ‘ranked’ in the top 25 nationally but none of the players I knew ever faced the kind of pressure this team faces. I can’t imagine how these kids handle it and for their parents, or at least this one kid’s step-dad, to not realize the pressure is ridiculous.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Euro Club Roundup #5

Roundup #5 has EPL and Bundesliga play on its way and La Liga starting up. There are also the Champions League and UEFA Cup group play draws.

AS Roma

Roma has started off in bad manner, losing a 3 goal lead to Inter Milan in the Italian Supercup to lose 4-3. The supercup generally pits the Serie A champion against Italian Cup champion in a preseason game to the Serie A season. Rumors suggest the AWOL Corinthians player Carlos Tevez is about to be transferred to Roma, which would be a big coup and replace Mido who as agreed to return to Tottenham Hotspur after only two months in the Capital City.

Roma was drawn into the Champions League group with Valencia, one of my selected teams. I haven’t figured out who to support in this matchup yet. Other teams in the group are Olympiakos and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Hertha

Hertha had another Bundesliga draw, this time against Hamburg 1-1. The draw leaves Hertha in sixth place with five points. Hertha scraped by and qualified for the UEFA Cup group stage with a 2-2 draw with Ameri and a 3-2 aggregate win. Hertha was drawn into group two.
Group Two: Maccabi Haifa v Litex LovechDerry City v Paris Saint GermainHertha Berlin v OdenseLegia Warsaw v Austria ViennaPanathinaikos v Metalurg

Liverpool

Liverpool got by Maccabi Haifa in Champions League qualifying on aggregate after a 1-1 draw. The Scousers also managed a victory in week 2 of EPL action with a 2-1 win over West Ham. However, the team has been decidedly underwhelming thus far in all of its matches and has been struck with the injury bug.

Liverpool was drawn into the Champions League group with PSV Eindhoven, Bordeaux, and Galatasaray.

Valencia

Valencia opened La Liga playwith a 2-1 victory over Real Betis. New signee Fernando Morientes opened the scoring for the team. Valencia finally sealed the deal with Joaquin from Real Betis.

Valencia emerged victorious from its Champions League qualifying with a 3-0 victory over Salzburg after its shocking 1-0 loss in the first leg. Valencia is in CL group play with Roma, Olympiakos and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tiger Wins In A New Way

Last week Tiger Woods won the PGA Championship and although I declared him the bestest ever, I deigned to say that I think he still needs to show that he can chase from behind on the last day and win a major. Well, on Sunday he did chase down the leader in the final round and won in a four-hole playoff. I guess I have to eat a little crow now but it still wasn't a major and it was not a very impressive victory. Tiger had a three shot lead on the sixteenth but fell back into a tie by the time he reached the 18th hole. It was good to see a little bit of a fight for the title but it was still an uninspiring performance. Maybe I expect too much, but it's what I want to see.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tom Brady's Fat and Ugly Cousin


I'm secure enough in my masculinity to say that Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback, is a handsome fellow. However, I am a little insecure in saying that I, in fact, watch the MTV reality series Laguna Beach. You may ask what these have to do with each other. Well, it's just that I think I found Tom Brady's long lost cousin and his name is Cameron and he "stars" on Laguna Beach. But, he's less talented, uglier and fatter than Tom Brady. Let's just call him the fat-faced, ugly version of Tom Brady.

I recently told this nickname to someone and they said, "Isn't that an insult to Tom Brady?" I hadn't thought about it but maybe it is. However, I want to look at as that guy only resembles Tom Brady but lacks any and all of the characteristics that make up Tom Brady. (In case you didn't know, Tom Brady is the right above and fat-faced, ugly Brady look-alike is on the left.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Euro Club Roundup #4

Roundup #4 marks the first weekend of Premiership play and the 2nd legs of Champions League and UEFA Cup matches.

AS Roma

Not much in the way of news for Roma. Inter Milan MF Pizarro looked to be a new member of AS Roma but he decided to nix the deal. The club is looking to trade defender Samuel Kaffour to Juventus for striker Marcelo Zalayeta.

Hertha

After a lifeless draw with Wolfsburg to open Bundesliga play, Hertha thrashed Hannover 4-0 in the German capital. On Thursday, Hertha plays the second away leg of its UEFA Cup qualifying match against Ameri with a 1-0 lead on aggregate.

Liverpool

Liverpool opened EPL play with a disappointing draw with EPL newcomers Sheffield. The Reds’ equalizer came on a controversial penalty foul on Steven Gerrard which drew the ire of Sheffield’s manager. This was a bad result because both ManU and Chelsea opened the season with big wins and Chelsea skipper John Terry said his squad was aiming to go for the hat trick with EPL championships. Liverpool also lost Jamie Carragher and John Arne Riise to ankle injuries in the first half.

Neither injured player is expected to play in the second leg of the Champions League qualifier against Maccabi Haifa. Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez got the second degree from the Israeli media in regards to the barring of a home match in Israel. The trip to the match was quite eventful it seems with passport issues and delays.

Over the last week Liverpool acquired Holland international Dirk Kuyt from Dutch side Feyenoord for 10 million pounds.

Valencia

Valencia is in dire need of a victory in the second leg of it Champions League match against Salzburg this week after its 1-0 defeat in the first leg.

Valencia is still playing in the transfer market. The team signed Italian striker Francesco Tavano from Empoli. It looks like Benfica winger Simao is not moving to Valencia after a deal between the player and Valencia could not be struck. The club is also making overtures to Deportivo la Coruna player Aldo Duscher for his service. Club Che appears set to acquire Real Betis winger Joaquin.

Valencia MF Ruben Baraja is out 10 weeks with a muscle injury.

Tiger Still Has Something To Prove

Tiger Woods won his 12th major, the PGA Championship, on Sunday in his typical dominating fashion. He finished 18 under par and 5 shots ahead of 2nd place. Everybody is fawning over Tiger, trying to find the best adjective to describe him. I choose bestest ever if it matters. Tiger's 12th major makes him the bestest ever or if it doesn't it definitely puts him on course to become the bestest ever. He still needs six more majors to tie his idol Jack Nicklaus, who is probably the bestest ever before Tiger, and about 30 PGA victories to become the all-time leader in victories. Despite this, I am about ready to annoint him king of the world, bestest ever, and the ultimate champion right now. He is that impressive. However, in my mind, Tiger still has something to prove--that he can come from behind and win.

For all his major victories, Tiger has been the leader or co-leader going into the final round and never lost from that position in a major. He has never made the last day charge to overcome the leader. He is the ultimate front runner, which isn't necessarily a bad thing since it demonstrates his incredible, superior talent to all the other duffers out there. However, there is something to be said about reeling in the leader and crushing him on the last day. Tiger crushes a lot on golf course, but it is as the leader. I think he'd crush his own family on the final day in a major, just rip their hearts out if it meant he would win. His mom, his late father, his super hot wife, even his future children, anybody. But, I'd like to see him be like Tom Brady, Joe Montana, John Elway, Michael Jordan, or any other superstar that pulls big victories out of the hat in the end.

Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, all I ask is too see a gutty come-from-behind performance in one or two of the next 10 majors you win. You are already the bestest ever in my book. Passing Nicklaus on the majors victory list is just a formality now, just give me the exhilaration of Tiger charging on the back nine on the last day, birdie, birdie, eagle, and a winning birdie on the 18th with a giant fist pump and awkward high five. It's all I ask, just fill out this sterling resume of yours.

Zach Randolph: Ruben Patterson Redux

Leave it to Zach Randolph to screw up any progress the Portland Trailblazers have made in winning back its fanbase during the offseason. The Oregonian reports the Mr. Randolph is "maybe a witness" or "maybe a suspect" in a sexual assault case. Z-bo, as he is called, has retained high profile defense attorney Stephen Houze who as defended other Blazer luminaries such as Damon Stoudamire. I'm pretty sure most of the Blazers probably have Mr. Houze on retainer, who is rumored not to accept clients unless they can pay a $100,000 retainer fee.

Let me just say it now. Get rid of Randolph! The kid is a disease on the team and blackhole on court (and no that isn't a racial comment). Oh, and get rid of Darius Miles too. I don't care what it takes now and I don't really care what we get in return as long as they aren't cancerous like these two.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Vegan Bodybuilding? Is That Allowed?

Last week, The Oregonian ran an article about Vegan Bodybuilding and the recent gathering it had in "vegan-friendly Portland." My first response was "What? Is that even real?" but reading the article and doing a little research I found that it actually exists. They have websites and even some vegan "superstars." After recovering from shock my next logical question was do they use steroids? I would think that the bovine steroids Barry Bonds is alleged to have used might be off-limits. What about human growth hormone? Probably not. None of these vegan bodybuilders seem to do much in traditional bodybuilding contests, which is as I would expect, but once science comes up the with WGH (wheat growth hormone) I bet we will see a big change.

Update: Coincidentally, as I wrote this post, it has been reported that Marion Jones has tested positive for EPO, a steroid, in her A sample.

Not Enough Credits

Just a few days ago former USC, San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins linbacker Junior Seau announced his retirement from the NFL. Seau had an impressive 16 year career and was named to 12 Pro Bowls. At his retirement ceremony, Seau he wasn't retiring, rather he was "graduating" to a new stage of his life.

I guess the registrar called and told Seau he didn't have enough credits to graduate just yet. It looks like after 3 days of retirement that Seau is set to join the New England Patriots. The Patriots are thin in the linebacking corp since Tedy Bruschi went down with a wrist injury and Coach Belichick thinks he can salvage something from Seau who has not been the same player since he left the Chargers. I'm guessing the one class that Seau has to take is the Super Bowl Champions 400-level course, which Belichick has taught three times.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What if the NBA, NFL and MLB had a Relegation System?

The most fascinating aspect of professional sports outside of America has to be the concept of relegation and promotion. It is predominantly associated with soccer where teams that finish at the bottom of a league, usually the bottom three, are relegated to a lower league. Conversely, if a team finishes at or near the top of a league, again usually the top three, the teams earn a promotion to a higher league if one exists. This system would be a great addition to the US and could help separate the wheat from the chaff in professional sports.

It is a device that is intended to make late season games of underperforming clubs from being meaningless. It motivates clubs not to tank games in hopes of getting a better draft position. Relegation and promotion also creates financial incentives to be promoted or to avoid relegation. Finally, the fight for promotion or fight to avoid relegation creates a large amount of drama for supporters of the clubs.

It would be nice to have this system in the US sports leagues. Teams like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Kansas City Royals, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bulls of the late 90s and early 2000s and the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies would all have spent significant amount of time in a lower division and the fans wouldn't have to watch the junk the teams have put on fields/floors over time. It would also prevent teams from conducting firesales, i.e. the Florida Marlins after the '97 World Series title, because of the financial repercussions of relegation. Despite what owners may say, professional athletics in America is a lucrative business even if the team is a perennial loser.

Look at the Clippers, Donald Serling has owned the team forever and it has rarely fielded a winner, yet the team hasn't been such a financial drain that he would sell it. There are numerous other examples out there of the same type of perennial losing yet no sale of the team. It can only mean that these teams are still making some money. The system of relegation and promotion would create an incentive for these teams to make better attempts at winning.

If you look at the bottom teams of the three major sports leagues, particularly baseball and basketball, you will see that the teams are habitual offenders. To help the image, I have selected the teams from each league that would have suffered relegation over the past ten years. In soccer the leagues generally have about 20 teams in each league and three teams will be relegated or promoted. Since American leagues have about 30 teams each, four teams should be subject to this penalty/benefit and I have chosen to select two teams with the worst records from each conference/league. As you will see below, there are some teams who probably would be demoted to a lower league for quite a while given the performances over the last decade.

NBA

Eastern Conference
05-06 NY Knicks 23–59; Atlanta 26–56
04-05 Atlanta 13–69; Charlotte 18–64
03-04 Orlando 21-61; Chicago 23–59
02-03 Cleveland 17–65; Toronto 24-58
01-02 Chicago 21-61; Cleveland 29-53
00-01 Chicago 15–67; Washington 19-63
99-00 Chicago 17-65; Atlanta 28-54
98-99 Chicago 13-37; NJ 16-34
97-98 Toronto 16-66; Philadelphia 31-51
96-97 Boston 15-67; Philadelphia 22-60
95-96 Philadelphia 18-64; Toronto 21-61


Western Conference
05-06 Portland 21–61; Minnesota 33–49
04-05 New Orleans 18–64; Utah 26–56
03-04 LA Clippers 28–54; Phoenix 29-53
02-03 Denver 17–65; LA Clippers 27–55
01-02 Golden State 21-61; Memphis 23-59
00-01 Golden State 17-65; Vancouver 23-59
99-00 LA Clippers 15-67; Golden State 19-63
98-99 Vancouver 8-42; LA Clippers 9-41
97-98 Denver 11-71; LA Clippers 17-65
96-97 Vancouver 14-68; San Antonio 20-62
95-96 Vancouver 15-67; Minnesota 26-56


NFL

NFC
‘05 New Orleans 3-13; SF 49ers 4-12
‘04 SF 49ers 2-14; Chicago 5-11
‘03 Arizona 4-12; NY Giants 4-12
‘02 Detroit 3-13; Chicago 4-12
‘01 Carolina 1-15; Detroit 2-14
‘00 Arizona 3-13; Atlanta 4-12
‘99 New Orleans 3-13; SF 4-12
‘98 Philadelphia 3-13; Chicago 4-12
‘97 Arizona 4-12; Chicago 4-12
‘96 Atlanta 3-13; New Orleans 3-13


AFC
‘05 Houston 2-14; NY Jets 4-12
‘04 Miami 4-12; Cleveland 4-12
‘03 Oakland Raiders 4-12; San Diego 4-12
‘02 Cincinnati 2-14; Houston 4-12
‘01 Buffalo 3-13; San Diego 5-11
‘00 San Diego 1-15; Cleveland 3-13
‘99 Cleveland 2-14; Cincinnati 4-12
‘98 Cincinnati 3-13; Indianapolis 3-13
‘97 Indianapolis 3-13; San Diego 4-12
‘96 NY Jets 1-15; Baltimore 4-12

MLB

NL
‘05 Colorado 67-95 ; Pittsburgh 67-95
‘04 Arizona 51-111; Montreal 67-95
‘03 San Diego 64-98; NYM 66-95
‘02 Milwaukee 56-106; San Diego 66-96
‘01 Pittsburgh 62-100; Cincinnati 66-96
‘00 Chicago Cubs 65-97; Phila. 65-97
‘99 Florida 64-98; Chicago Cubs 67-95
‘98 Florida 54-108; Arizona 65-97
‘97 Chicago Cubs 68-94; Phila. 68-94
‘96 SF 68-94; Phila. 67-95


AL
‘05 KC 56-106; Tampa Bay 67-95
‘04 KC 58-104; Seattle 63-99
‘03 Detroit 43-119; Tampa Bay 63-99
‘02 Detroit 55-106; Tampa Bay 55-106
‘01 Tampa Bay 62-100; Baltimore 63-98
‘00 Tampa Bay 69-92; Minnesota 69-93
‘99 Minnesota 63-97; KC 64-97
‘98 Tampa Bay 63-99; Detroit 65-97
‘97 Oakland 65-97; KC 67-94
‘96 Detroit 53-109; California Angels 70-91

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Odds and Ends

Talk about a weather delay. These little kids are lucky they weren't playing in a trailer park.

P-Diddy and Wayne Rooney taking NY by storm.

Cleveland Browns owner joins Malcolm Glazer in the EPL by purchasing Aston Villa.

Someone thinks the Blazers will be good in a year or two. I agree. Also, you should check out Truehoop.com, it's a very good website.

Umm, I Think Bruce Arena Is Peeved

New Red Bull New York and former US National Team coach Bruce Arena had a little sitdown with SI.com writer Grant Wahl. Let's just say Bruce is madder than a wet cat. I might entitle this article "Bruce Arena, No Holds Barred."

Arena had choice words for many in the US soccer community. It can be summed up in saying the Arena is bitter that he gets all the blame and no credit for WC '06, he thinks Sunil Gulati is not good for US soccer, he thinks he was the greatest thing since sliced bread for US Soccer, and that Carlos Valderrama was the equivalent of Zinedine Zidane.

Arena may have some valid points. He probably does get too much blame for WC '06 and little credit for all that he did prior to that. He also might have some good ideas on how to improve the system. But, Arena can't pout in the corner and not accept any blame. He is acting like a petulant little child that didn't get his way. Know what Bruce, as my parents told me from a very young age, life ain't always fair so get over it. Oh, and no way is Valderrama in the same class as Zidane. It's more like Zizou is a tenured professor and Valderrama is a TA working on his Masters.

But it is better to read what he said and here are some of the best quotes:

Asked about administrative responsibilities in comparison to the USMNT and Red Bull:
There was a lot with the national team. They probably wouldn't give me credit for this, because they'll take credit for everything that went right and nothing that went wrong. But I created a winning organization there and forced their hand on it. Because they didn't know how to win. The organization I inherited in '98 was a failure in every possible area. And we worked to make that better.
Asked if was disappointed in how US Soccer handled his departure Arena said "yeah" and was asked to expound:

Simply because I corrected a lot of things that were their faults and positioned them pretty good. And they're going to find out that position isn't going to be easy to sustain. I took over a mess. And if you ever want to figure out who created that mess, think about that a little bit.
Asked to expand even further on the above question Arena went into what was wrong with US Soccer:

There's too many people who want to be technical directors and soccer experts that aren't. They're micromanagers. U.S. Soccer needs a real thorough technical direction in terms of how you go about doing business in this sport every day, and it's not there. The national training center [at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.] is a joke in terms of a national training center. It's an amusement park.
After saying US Soccer President Sunil Gulati is a "good friend" Arena proceeded to rip him a new one:

I think he's a superfan who now is president. That's the way our organization is. That's unfortunate, and you add another micromanager to an organization that's already micromanaged. I don't think that's necessarily good. He's a guy who loves the game, who wants to be important and be around the world of bigwigs at FIFA, and he's going to get that opportunity.
Then Arena starts really cutting loose and laying into the USMNT and how good he was:

They're going to win the next World Cup, from what I'm told. So I wish them the best. Because we did so poorly over the last eight years, I'm sure they're going to win the next World Cup.
I've probably showed them the finest eight years of the national team they're going to see for a long time. I don't need to prove anything to them.
Then Arena rips into the MLS, the league he will be coaching in come Wednesday:

I don't think the league's as good as it was in the early going. That's my opinion. I think the American player is better, and there's more of them. But I don't think the quality is as good. You don't find too many Carlos Valderramas and Marco Etcheverrys and Roberto Donadonis, those types of players. In all fairness, you have to look at the way the game has grown globally. The price of doing business has gone up substantially. To do it would be very difficult. It would be the equivalent of bringing [Zin├ędine] Zidane or Luis Figo here now.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Which Announcers Does the Sports Guy Hate?

Last week the Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, wrote a column about how he would make sports better for everyone. There were a number of gems in the column but number 27 stuck out like a sore thumb:

27) My bosses won't allow me to say which six announcers I would deport to Eastern Europe, but here are their initials jumbled together backwards: WBMABCMJMTBJ.
So, who does the Sports Guy want to spend an eternity the former Soviet Union? Let's break it down.

There are six announcers SG doesn't care to listen to and he has given us these initials: JB, TM, JM, CB, AM, BW.

  • JB: The most likely suspect here is Joe Buck. SG hates him for always talking about the Red Sox curse in the playoffs. However, Buck doesn't work for ABC/ESPN/Disney so I don't know if SG's bosses would care if he named them. Other possibilities are James Brown, Jillian Barberie, Jay Bilas, or Jeff Brantley. Of those alternates I would choose Brown.
  • TM: Joe Buck's announcing partner Tim McCarver is the obvious choice. Many fans can't stand listening to him but he suffers from the Joe Buck fact that he doesn't work for SG's bosses. Other possibilities: the only one I could come up with was Tino Martinez, but he hasn't done enough, yet, to raise the ire of SG. Although, he is a terrible analyst/personality on ESPN.
  • JM: Joe Morgan works for ESPN and has a cult following wishing he would be fired. John Madden is the second best choice for his insane ramblings on MNF. Other possibilities: Jon Miller, Jay Mariotti (although not an announcer, he does work for ESPN).
  • CB: Chris Berman. No other possibilities on this one. If SG meant someone other than Boomer, I would be as surprised as Baltimore Colt fans the morning the team moved to Indy.
  • AM: Al Michaels or Al McGuire are the likely culprits here. My money would be on Al Michaels although I don't mind him that much.
  • BW: The one and only, Bill Walton. Walton is absolutely AWFUL. He was terrible as a Blazers announcer and now that he does the national games he is even worse. For such a great former athlete, he is quite the jock sniffer. He hasn't met a star basketball player he didn't like.

All in all, if my first choice picks are correct, I couldn't argue much with SG's selections. If I never heard one of these guys announce a game, my life would not be any worse and would probably be better.

Euro Club Roundup #3

Roundup #3 sees the beginning of Bundesliga play, 3rd round UEFA Cup qualifying, and Champions League qualifying. Less rumors and more action. Liverpool had a quality week and Valencia had a downer.

AS Roma

After returning from loan to the Hotspurs, Mido desires to leave and return to the EPL.
Real Madrid is eyeing three Roma defenders.
A friendly between two of the Euro teams I am supporting, Roma and Valencia, resulted in a 2 – 0 defeat for Roma. However, the only match report I can find is in Spanish.

Hertha

Substitute Okoronkwo’s injury time strike gave Hertha a 1 – 0 win in the home leg of its UEFA Cup qualifying match with the Georgian side Ameri.
In its Bundesliga opener, the Old Lady, Hertha, managed a 0 – 0 draw with VfL Wolfsburg. It wasn’t a pretty performance with Wolfsburg dominating but Hertha did hold firm.

Liverpool

The Reds had the most active week of the four clubs with several matches and the publication of skipper Steven Gerrard’s autobiography.

Liverpool squeezed by the Israeli side, Maccabi Haifa, in the home leg of the Champions League qualifier 2 -1. New additions Mark Gonzalez and Craig Bellamy scored for the Reds. Gonzalez’ winner came in the 88th minute after coming on for Gerrard. Haifa may have been motivated by the UEFA decision to prohibit the home leg from occurring in Israel.

On Sunday, Liverpool scored a psychological victory by beating Chelsea 2 -1 in the Community Shield match. The Community Shield sets last season’s FA Cup and Premiership champions against each other. Peter Crouch scored the game winner on a header in the 80th minute. John Arne Riise, a rumored target of Chelsea, scored the opener in the 9th. Andriy Shevchenko equalized for the Blues right before half. Michael Ballack was booked in the 6th minute and hobbled off the match in the 26th with a muscle injury. This match sets the table for what promises to be a very interesting EPL battle between Chelsea and Liverpool. Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho, has repeatedly stated that Liverpool doesn’t have what it takes to win the EPL title and a war of words between the managers has been ongoing. After the match, Mourinho and Rafa Benitez didn’t shake hands but did offer some praise.

Skipper Steven Gerrard’s autobiography came out recently and he had much to say. He said England was overconfident in the WC. Also, he finds Cristiano Ronaldo to be disgraceful for his actions in the WC. He also wants to be a Red for life and hopefully can manage the team some day.

Valencia

The Ches suffered a surprise defeat 0-1 to Red Bull Salzburg on the away leg of the Champions League qualifying match. This puts considerable pressure on Valencia to win, otherwise it faces an ignominious early exit to the Champions League.

Valencia did defeat Serie A foe AS Roma in a friendly this week 2-0.

The Roberto Ayala drama continues as he threatens to holdout unless he is transferred to Villareal. Valencia, on the other hand, has filed disciplinary action against Ayala for his criticisms of the club.