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.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Should I Sell My Rodney McCray Bobblehead?

I got my Rodney McCray Bobblehead/Bobblefence last night. I waited for 40 minutes in line to get my hands on one of the 2000 available. For those of you who don't know, Rodney McCray was a key figure (along with a plywood wall) in one of the most memorable sporting moments of all time. McCray, chasing a long fly ball, ran full steam into and through the outfield wall in a minor league baseball game in Portland, Oregon in 1991. Here's the video.

McCray has been immortalized once in the video at the Baseball Hall of Fame and now he has been immortalized with the Bobblehead figurine celebrating the 15th anniversary of the moment. Not bad for a guy who never had much more than a cup of coffee in the majors.

I got home and jumped on eBay and found that there were already several listings for the bobblehead, some with bids already in the 50 dollar range. Not bad considering you only had to buy an $8 ticket to get it. I hadn't thought about selling the figurine because I think it is actually fairly unique and memorializes a famous moment. But, seeing how I could make a nice profit, I am tempted to put it up on eBay. What say ye, all 3 of my regular readers?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Should have seen it coming!

I guess we should have seen this one coming. Maurice Clarett has been spiralling downward ever since he hit his apex after leading Ohio State to the 2003 NCAA football title. The former Buckeye was arrested this week at 3 a.m. after leading the police on a car chase. The details of the arrest read like a Goodfellas scene. This seems like it could have easily led to a Rae Carruth-like situation with Clarett in the trunk of some car.

He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and a traffic violation after police said he wove in and out of lanes, did a U-turn on a freeway and refused to leave the SUV after a spike stick flattened its tires.

Clarett, 22, had a semi-automatic handgun under his legs in the driver's seat, police said, and they found an AK-47-type assault rifle on the passenger seat and two other semi-automatic handguns, including one in a holster in a backpack.

Police attempted to shock Clarett but the former Fiesta Bowl standout was wearing a bulletproof vest that rendered the stun gun ineffective, Woods said.


Not too mention that he also had a hatchet, half-empty bottle of Grey Goose vodka and clothing in his car. He was also arrested only a short distance from the residence of a witness that was going to testify against him in another trial.

I, for one, feel very sorry for Clarett. A lot of things have gone wrong in his life and a lot of things have gone right but, he has not been able to cope with the highs and lows, obviously. Now, he most likely will have to straighten himself out in a 8 by 6 concrete, bar-filled room. I just hope he rights this sinking ship.

For those of you interested, the picture above is a photo of infamous Ohio State fan Mike Cooper and his buddies and you can see Clarett up in the gun turret. If you would like to know more about the Mike Cooper situation watch the video at Deadspin to learn how the story started. With Mike Cooper, the Cincinnati Cons nee Bengals and now Maurice Clarett, Ohio athletics has not had a good year.







Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Euro Club Roundup #2

This is my second week of following four clubs from the top European leagues (EPL, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga in my opinion). Still mostly rumors and friendly results. Next week will have Champions League and UEFA Cup qualifying results, however.

AS Roma

Roma rumored to be interested in Ukrainian midfielder Tymoschuk.
Francesco Totti looking for Serie A glory.
Egyptian striker Mido happy to be back with Roma after loan to the Spurs, but rumors have surfaced that he may be on his way back to the Spurs permanently.
Inter Milan MF David Pizarro wants to join Roma.
Lens MF Alou Diarra has been targeted by Roma.
Italian international Iaquinta has been linked to Roma.
Final offer made for Italian international winger Semioli by Roma.
A short Roma side lost 0 -1 to German club Hamburg.


Hertha

Argentine striker Christian Gimenez joined Hertha on loan from Olympique Marseille.
Hertha won its final friendly before the Bundesliga season begins 2-1 against second division German club Erzgebirge Aue.

Liverpool

A little verbal sparring between Chelsea and Liverpool. Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, doesn’t think Liverpool can win the Premiership, while robot dancing Peter Crouch does.
Liverpool won’t have to play its champions league qualifier in Israel.
Liverpool lost two friendlies this week. 2 - 0 to Grasshopper Zurich and 5-0 to Mainz. The Mainz thrashing occurred after a scoreless first half and Rafa decided to rest his starters in advance of the Champions League qualifying match this week. Those two results combined with another loss last week don’t seem to bode well for Liverpool.
Reds have an interest in Holland international Dirk Kuyt.

Valencia

Barca has offered Saviola to Valencia but the team doesn’t want to pay his salary.
Argentine defender Roberto Ayala wants out of Valencia and the club has offered him to some Premiership clubs.
Real Betis has bid for Valencia winger Mario Regueiro.
Valencia is after Portuguese defender Jorge Andrade and Inter Milan’s striker Obafemi Martins.
Looks like Simao will finally join Valencia from Benfica after a month of negotiations.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Weekend Wrap-Up

Floyd Landis, let me introduce you to Ben Johnson.

MLS All-Stars beat Chelsea in a game that may or may not have mattered.

Tiger gets number 50 and proves nothing since he is already the best golfer on the PGA.

Kobayashi eats more sausage faster than anyone. Woo-hoo.

Six new people get those ugly yellow NFL Hall of Fame blazers.

NFL player arrested AND he isn’t a Cincinnati Bengal.

John Madden blathers his way back into football fan’s consciousness in first preseason game.

Tony Blair chills with Snoop Dogg and Chelsea FC.

MLS All-Stars beat super-club Chelsea

In what amounts to a fairly sizeable upset, the MLS All-Star team defeated English club Chelsea 1 – 0. Chelsea is the two-time champion of the English Premier League, has 14 players on its roster that played in the ’06 World Cup and has a $200 million payroll bankrolled by Russian oil magnate Roman Abramovich. Essentially, this is the English version of the NY Yankees who probably have 5 players whose annual salary exceeds the sum of all the MLS All-Stars.

I had the privilege of watching this game in bar with the sound turned off. This meant I avoided the awful ESPN announcers. I think that it was Dave O’Brien and Marcelo Balboa. MLS put on a good performance with Houston Dynamo Dwayne De Rosario scoring the game winner on nice near-post shot from just inside the eighteen yard box. MLS had a number of chances and was the far fitter team. It also did well to survive the Chelsea onslaught in the final twenty minutes. The English champions, however, did not play particularly well. The team was still in pre-season form with poor fitness and finishing.

There have generally been two takes on the result, either it was huge for the MLS or that it doesn’t really matter. In my mind, the reality is a combination of these two positions. It was a big win for the MLS because it gives the league good PR here in America. It can point to this win and say it really is a legitimate league with good players that can compete with some of the best teams in the world. This result may not mean this for true soccer enthusiasts but it does matter for the casual fans because these people probably would expect, like De Rosario said, that the MLS All-Stars would get “spanked” by Chelsea.

On the other hand, it did not mean a lot to Chelsea. The club had only been practicing for one week after having spent some time vacationing and the team was still trying to integrate new super-stars Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko into the line-up. Manager Jose Mourinho iterated these thoughts when he stated “Without legs, it’s very difficult to play football. My players without legs. For me this was a training session against other players. And no more than that.” I’m sure that Mourinho and his players would have preferred to win and not have to suffer the smack that they will receive for losing to the lowly MLS guys. But, it was only a preseason match for Chelsea against a bunch of MLS guys who were trying to impress other European clubs. So the motivation levels were obviously quite different.

So, in the end the match meant a lot in terms of PR for the MLS and making good impressions for the MLS All-Stars but it was only an ego-check for Chelsea.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Mullet Night: Successful and Unsuccessful

Last week, Portland's AAA baseball club, the Beavers, had a Mullet Night promotion. Deadspin.com featured it in its "Minor Enterprise" column. Mullet Night coincided with Thirsty Thursday, which always brings in the biggest crowds because of the $2 beers that are available. It appears that the promotion's success was mixed. The Portland Tribune found very few mullets in attendance but marveled at the competitive drinking Thirsty Thursday brings about. Mmm...mullets and competitive drinking...that could be a contest at the next Redneck Games.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

George Solomon Supports Corporate Censorship

George Solomon, the ESPN ombudsman, has another column out. I generally enjoy reading his column because he provides a critical opinion of ESPN that I think the network has lacked. However, this time he has irked me a bit because he says sports fans just don't get the business side of ESPN. I beg to differ and I told him so. Here is the email I sent him in response. (I'll admit the Blazers comment is a bit homerish of me but I stand by it.)

Dear Mr. Solomon,

Thanks for explaining to a simpleton such as myself that I don't understand corporate policies and am only capable of understanding sports and sports strategies. I suppose my college degree, law degree and job experience prevents me from understanding such wildly complex things like corporate policy.

The problem with your explanation of the Harold Reynolds situation is that you gloss over the fact that ESPN the corporation is censoring the news it provides. I am sure that any reporter worth his or her salt at ESPN could probably find out what happened in that situation since they are on the inside and could report it on Sportscenter. However, the corporate ESPN determined that it would be better off censoring the news it provides although its viewers wanted to know why one of the more respected baseball commentators on your network was fired.

I for one do not support corporate censorship of the news and shame on you for being the apologist who defends this practice. It is antithetical to the goal of the ESPN news reporters and news division.

In other news, I agree with your assessments of Stephen A. Smith and Scoop Jackson. However, I would go further and say both are horrendous parts of the ESPN family. They should be disowned. Neither provide any substantive comments or information to the company. Smith constantly yells to make his point stick although it is absolutely worthless. Take for example his tirade against the Blazers in the draft when afterwards almost everyone disagreed with Smith and said Portland
had an excellent draft day. And Jackson only furthers the black stereotypes and his race baiting columns have become trite, stale, and old. Whenever I see one of these two on the channel I either mute it or change the channel. I know many others who feel the same. Please, do something about this.

Sincerely,

The Fan's Attic

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My European Club Round-Up

Here's my first weekly installment of the stories surrounding the four clubs I have selected to support this year in Europe. This is going to be more difficult than I thought. It takes a lot of work to keep up on these clubs.

Hertha Berlin
  • Hertha lost 0-1 to Hamburg SV in the preseason Bundesliga Cup on July 29.
  • The club signed 22 year-old Croatian forward Srdjan Lakic to a 3 year contract. Lakic scored 13 goals in 30 games last season.
  • Brazilian midfielder Marcelinho left Hertha this past week. The 31 year-old signed with a Turkish first division team. He had been a solid performer for the club but lately was inconsistent.

Liverpool

  • Liverpool lost 2-3 to Kaiserslautern of the German second division in a preseason friendly on the 29th. At the end of the game, Liverpool keeper Jose Reina played in the midfield. New player Jermaine Pennant looked solid in his debut. Luis Garcia and Fabio Aurelio suffered injuries during the game.
  • Apparently, Liverpool put in the highest bid for Chelsea striker Damien Duff but the Blues refused to deal to the club. Rather, the team sent him to Newcastle.
  • Liverpool drew Israeli club Maccabi Haifa in its Champions League qualifier. Liverpool is balking at traveling to Israel for the away leg. UEFA is asking for Israel FA for security assurances. This could get interesting.

Valencia

  • Argentina midfielder Pablo Aimar surprisingly left Valencia for Real Zaragoza.
  • Valencia routed EPL team Charlton 3-1 in a friendly last weekend.
  • Valencia sold 27 year-old striker Mista to Atletico Madrid for 4 million euros.
  • Valencia is still trying to sign Portuguese winger Simao Sabrosa from Benfica but talks have broken down amid requests for more money on Simao’s part.
  • Rumors are surfacing the Valencia has entered the Cristiano Ronaldo market.

Roma

  • Roma claims it will not sell to Real Madrid three players: Daniele de Rossi (he of the elbow to McBride’s face), Cristian Chivu and Mancini.
  • Rumors: Roma will look to purchase David Trezeguet from scandal ridden Juventus; Lens defensive midfielder Alou Diarra would like to join AS Roma; Ghanaian international Stephen Appiah has been linked to Roma but would still prefer to sign with Arsenal.