Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Look At What Yao Ming Has Wrought

Yao Ming's presence in the NBA has brought legions of fans from China to the Association. Yao has a tremendous impact on his teammates. Tracy McGrady has the most popular jersey in China and shortly after being traded to the Houston Rockets, Shane Battier signed a contract with a chinese shoe company. The billions of Chinese have managed to stuff the All-Star ballot boxes to earn Yao 5 consecutive starts in the game. And, Yao's fans have also provided the world with this masterpiece of boyband idolatry. Not good.

Update: It appears this video has made the rounds and I am just slow on the uptake for it. Oh well, still funny and thanks to all of those who linked here.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Devastating Injury To John Terry

Chelsea grabbed its first hardware this season by beating Arsenal 2-1 in the Carling Cup final. But in the process team and English captain, John Terry, suffered yet another injury. Terry made a quick recovery to from his injury in the first leg of the Champions League match up with FC Porto to play in Sunday's final. About 10 minutes into the second half, Terry dove for a header in the Arsenal box and was kicked in the face by Abou Diaby on the attempted clearance.

Terry was immediately knocked out by the kick and flopped to the ground. Players from both teams quickly called for medical help as Terry lay on the ground almost motionless. Terry was eventually stretchered off the field after seven minutes or so. It was a scary sight--you can see video below--but it seems that Terry will be ok. He rejoined his teammates after going to the hospital to celebrate the victory.

The game itself was actually quite well played but was marred by the Terry injury and a little conflict in closing minutes that resulted in three red cards. Arsenal took the early lead on Theo Walcott's goal in the 12th minute. But, Chelsea drew level on a 20th minute strike from Didier Drogba who also provided the game winner in the 84th minute.

Late in the match Mikel Jon Obi fouled Arsenal defender Kolo Toure who responded physically. It turned into a shoving match and a number of other players got involved. Obi, Toure and Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor all received red cards. Video here.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Tennis-Soccer Video

Back in high school, my teammates and I would often go to the local YMCA and play tennis-soccer on the tennis courts until somebody kicked us out. It was a lot of fun and improved our touch. I mention this because found this great video of Argentine stars, past and present, playing a miniature game of tennis-soccer. There's Maradona, Tevez, Messi and some guy I don't know. Maradona looks like he has lost weight and his touch looks as good as ever.

MeSsI mArAdOnA VS TeVeZ DaVy
Video sent by anjinho75

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Champions League LiveBlog Liverpool - Barcelona 2nd Half

2nd Half

I would like to point out that I found it incredibly amusing that Bellamy celebrated with a golf swing. I'm not sure if it should taken as an FU to everybody or a good natured acceptance of his travails. Ah, who am I kidding, given Bellamy's past it is certainly an FU. And, as Cedrick pointed out in the comments, Riise and his bruised legs probably isn't too pleased with Bellamy's actions.

I'd like to see Britney do something like that. Maybe she could start carrying a pair of clippers around with her to the various rehabs she will be attending over the next 3 years.

At half Inter is up 1-0 on Valencia, Roma and Lyon knotted at 0, Porto and Chelsea tied at 1. Sheva scored a nice goal for Chelsea. It was his 45th CL goal! That's amazing! He's right up there with some big names. This will definitely help his confidence, maybe even make him a threat in the EPL.

45:00 - It looks like Bellamy will be getting credit for the goal.

47:00 - Gerrard with a free kick on goal. That was a great opportunity for the scousers. You want to see something better though from the captain.

52:00 - So is Barcelona going to pull an Arsenal today and play with little life and creativity? THe squaad seems to be just going through the paces right now.

55:00 - Barca subs Motta on for Iniesta.

57:00 - As mentioned in the comments earlier, Carragher is an absolute beast for Liverpool. He just broke up an excellent through ball. He's been in all the right places today.

62:00 - Yellow for Sissoko. Not very surprising but he gives up a dangerous free kick. But, Barbaro skies it over without any danger.

64:00 - Messi has been proclaimed as the next Mardona but I have a feeling he might become the next Kerry Wood given his proclivity to injury.

68:00 - That was a stupid mistake by Valdez picking up the back pass. That's elementary school stuff. He lucks by making a good save on Gerrard and then Kuyt screwing up the header.

72:00 - Wow! Liverpool was lucky that Messi didn't bury the shot after Reina failed to corral the first shot from Saviola.

75:00 - Goal!!! Wow...Barca can't defend worth shite. Kuyt blew his opportunity but the rebound went to Bellamy who found Riise open on the other side of the 18. Riise buried the shot. Karaoke anyone?

77:00 - Bellamy booked. The trifecta: goal, assist, and booking.

80:00 - Oh hothead for another. Pennant on for Bellamy.

82:00 - Saviola off, Gudjohnsen on. This will be an all-out assault on Liverpool's defense.

86:00 - Dangerous series of free kick and corner but Liverpool comes out unscathed.

87:00 - Deco nearly levels it with a free kick off the far post. That would been a bit disheartening for 'Pool.

90:00 - Holding on is Liverpool. 4 minutes of injury time.

90:00 +2 - Barca isn't really pushing the tempo right now. They look beaten. As they should, since the scoreboard says so.

90:00 +4 - Final Whistle but not before Peter Crouch gets on the field for 1 minute. What a good game for Liverpool. Barca will really need to change things around if they want to advance.

Thanks for joining me. Enjoy the day and we'll do this again next CL match week.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Champions League LiveBlog Liverpool - Barcelona 1st Half

Alright, we're going to have a go at with the internet feed of the Barcelona-Liverpool match. Hopefully my computer doesn't start smoking at some point today.

In the week's premier CL match, the reigning champions, Barcelona, face off against the 2005 champions, Liverpool at the Noucamp (Barca's home). Both squads come into this match with internal turmoil. Barcelona has seen one of its stars, Samuel Eto'o, refuse to come into a match and Ronaldinho publicly upbraiding him for it. For the Scousers, it may be even worse because badboy Craig Bellamy is alleged to have attacked teammate John Arne Riise with a golf club after a karaoke incident.

Liverpool has also found, after spending millions last summer on new acquisitions, itself wanting in the Premiership trailing Man U by 16 points. The squad has been eliminated from the FA and Carling Cups as well. This is the team's only real chance for hardware this year. Barcelona, on the other hand, is tied for first in La Liga with Sevilla and has looked to be in better form than Liverpool overall.

This should be an excellent matchup with Liverpool's physicality and Barcelona's skill.


Liverpool-Reina; Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Arbeloa, Riise; Sissoko, Alonso, Gerrard; Kuyt, Bellamy

Barcelona- Valdes; Zambrotta, Puyol, Belletti, Marquez; Xavi, Deco, Motta; Messi, Ronaldinho, Saviola

Refresh frequently to get timely updates.

As it was yesterday, feel free to email me with comments, criticisms, dirty jokes or whatever at thefansattic [at] or leave them in the comments section. Let me know what you are hoping for in this match. Personally, I am holding out hope of seeing The Robot from Peter Crouch although he's not in the starting lineup.

Ok, just had my first casualty as my internet connection went down. A quick restart of the modem and router cured it. Let's hope that's the worst thing that happens. So, my internet feed just changed to an Asian language. I need to locate an English feed because I can't understand it.

And another modem crash...this can't be good. Now I can't get the feed. I saw 30 seconds of match and thank god Liverpool doesn't have its yellow jerseys. Porto just went up 1-0 on Chelsea and Terry is injured again.

14:00 - Goal!!! Right when I get back on Deco heads one home for Barca. And Sheva just leveled it for Chelsea.

22:00 - Feed back up and I get to see Horseface with his mouth gaping open looking for its feedbag. And, Agger gets a ticky-tack yellow. THis is going swimmingly for the Reds and myself as well.

25:00 - Shot of Eto'o banished to the stands...What the hell is he wearing? I can only describe it as some sort of outfit you would see Victoria Beckham (nee Posh Spice) wear. All white suit with buttons and stuff.

27:00 - It's really frustrating to not have seen the first 20 or so because I have no idea how the flow of this game is going. Liverpool seems to be alright. And, the Italian Oscar goes to...Zambrotta. Ah, who are we kidding, all the soccer players from that country deserve one. A sort of lifetime achievement award.

34:00 - Is it too much to ask to get a shot or Riise's legs? I want a look at the evidence.

35:00 - That was a brutal choice by Kuyt on the tackle. What was he thinking? The ref had no choice to book him. Liverpool is having incredibly difficulty getting that last pass through to setup good things.

38:00 - Belletti with a brutal tackle for Barca this time. Another yellow. This match could get ugly, but the physicality might benefit Liverpool if they can keep composure. Good effort by the Golfer (Bellamy) on the set piece header.

41:00 - GOAL!!!! The golfer gets it on this one. That was pretty lax defense on Barca's part.

45:00 - That goal may go to Kuyt or Bellamy...we'll see...they should give it to the Karaoke Kid because of his week. And we're tied at half, 1-1. Oh, and just for the sake of it, I'm glad Marquez was partially at fault for Liverpool's goal. I'll start up a second post for the 2nd half. Hopefully, we will all have less technical difficulties.

Champions League LiveBlog Wednesday at 11:30 PST

The plan is to LiveBlog one of the Champions League game on Wednesday. Unfortunately, ESPN2 is scheduled to show the Chelski - FC Porto match that pits Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho against the squad he took to the 2004 Champions League title. The WWL is putting the Liverpool - Barcelona match on ESPN Deportes but I'm going to see if I can get an internet feed of the 'Pool match that won't kill my computer in slow and agonizing manner. If not, I'll just LiveBlog the Chelsea match. See you there.

Champions League LiveBlog: Arsenal v. PSV Eindhoven 2nd Half

2nd Half

Well, I must say I have been surprised at how well PSV has played given Arsenal's form as of late. I don't foresee any changes to the lineups for the second half. It has been good yet unexciting match so far. Let's hope for, as Cedrick does, for something to liven it up.

51:00 - Six minutes in and still no excitement. If I were Arsenal I might be a little concerned with all the mistouches and poor play in the back. Several times the defense has looked suspect. Oh, and damn my stupid computer.

54:00 - Very nice cross to Kone, who looked offside, who attempted a full volley but didn't get his foot on it solidly. This is how PSV will score if they do at all. Springing Kone with a nice pass/cross on a counter.

57:00 - PSV is playing with fire because it can't get the ball out of its end and is concedeing corners.

60:00 - There's the Henry we've come to love, whining about a small touch from PSV.

61:00 GOAL!!! Well, I was wrong about Kone scoring but Mendes knocks one in from 28 yards out after Kone fed him nicely. It was definitely against the run of play and perhaps the first mistake Lehmann has made all night.

63:00 - Senderos is booked after slipping and then deliberately handling the ball. That's the problem with Senderos, he makes youthful mistakes and gets too many cards.

65:00 - We're witnessing history as Sun Xiang comes on for PSV's da Costa. Sun Xiang is the first Chinese player to get field time in a CL match.

69:00 - Rosicky set up Fabregas for a hard shot from the top of the 18 but Gomes made a tremendous save.

72:00 - Sun Xiang gets his first CL foul. That, my friends, is history as well.

76:00 - The Beast, Julio Baptista, on for Hleb. Tardelli out for PSV.

77:00 - PSV had another great opportunity but Senderos blocked the Mendez shot.

81:00 - The Beast put a dangerous free-kick on goal that Gomes bobbled. Apparently, Smyth thinks there is a third Arsenal side. The one that doesn't play inspired or with much creativity. That's 3 sides. Can he go for a fourth?

87:00 - Only a few minutes left. WE'll see an all out attacking effort from the Gunners but will they be able to break out of the poor form they have shown. Gomes with another quality save coming out of the goal to snatch the ball out of the air.

90:00 +1 - Game over. PSV 1 - Arsenal 0. An upset I would say. Arsenal surely didn't come out with much life. Rather flat if you ask me. PSV played a masterful match and obviously had the better tactics and execution. Arsenal will have to play much better in the 2nd leg to advance. Man of the Match goes to Gomes for PSV who was mistake free all night and made several outstanding saves.

Thanks for being with me on my first LiveBlog efforts. I'll be here tomorrow for the Liverpool - Barcelona match. Hope to see you again.

Bayern Munich pulled one back with van Bommel's second half goal but still lost 3-2. Ryan Giggs put Man U up one with only a few minutes left to lead them to a 1-0 victory. Celtic and AC Milan fought to a scoreless draw.

Champions League LiveBlog: Arsenal v. PSV Eindhoven 1st Half

Today's match is at Philips Stadion in Eindhoven. The four times these two squads have met in European competition Arsenal is unbeaten with 2 wins and 2 draws.

Last year's Champions League (CL) runner-up, Arsenal, finds itself back in the hunt for the European Cup and in 4th place in the Premiership with a long shot of challenging for the league title. PSV the defending Dutch Eredivisie champion leads Ajax by five points this season. Arsenal advanced from group G in first place over FC Porto. PSV advanced behind Liverpool out of group C.

If you so desire, you can send me comments via email at thefansattic [at] or just put them in the comments field. Refresh often to get updates. I will also attempt to keep you updated on the other CL matches today.

Arsenal will be led by its graceful French striker Thierry Henry, who sat out the recent Cup match against Blackburn. The Gunners will be boosted by the return of William Gallas after a long stay on the injured list but are still without Dutch striker Robin Van Persie, who has a broken foot. Arsenal is running out a 4-4-2 (defenders, mids, strikers).

Arsenal- Lehmann, Gallas, Toure, Senderos, Clichy, Hleb, Silva, Fabregas, Rosicky, Henry, Adebayor
Subs- Almunia, Ljungberg, Julio Baptista, Denilson, Flamini, Djourou, Aliadiere

PSV is led by its captain Phillip Cocu. But, the Dutch side is facing a serious injury problem with Patrick Kluivert, Michael Reiziger and John DeJong all out with injuries and Jefferson Farfan doubtful for the match. PSV comes out with a 4-4-2 as well.

PSV Eindhoven- Gomes, Kromkamp, Alex, Da Costa, Salcido, Culina, Simons, Cocu, Mendez, Kone, Tardelli
Subs- Moens, Vayrynen, Addo, Feher, Sun

For some reason a few of the Dutch fans are dressed as M&Ms. I wonder if those little kids the players walk out with ever have sticky hands? Like they've been eating PB&J right beforehand. I wouldn't like that.

Well, it looks like I might have been wrong about PSV. It looks like they may have a 4-3-3 lineup with the same players. Oh well.


3:00 - Early on PSV controls the ball and Kone gets a shot off from the 18 after Arsenal failed to clear a set piece. There is no clock on the broadcast so I'm just guessing on the time.

Still no clock and PSV is showing some spirit and have controlled the play so far. Arsenal seems relaxed and just biding its time until the moment strikes.

(9:00 mark???) Kone just blew by Gallas but let the ball go out. I could seen Kone causing some problems with his speed.

11:00 - Tardelli just blew a gilt-edged opportunity after Fabregas misplayed a ball in the 18. Tardelli had a hard touch and the ball went right to Lehmann.

14:00?? - PSV and Gomes just got lucky when Rosicky's shot was barely deflected by the keeper and Salcido cleared it off the line as it trickled toward the goal. It wasn't a great shot but it wasn't a great save either.

17:00 - Arsenal is finally gaining its form with good possession and dangerous opportunities. Senderos headed a Fabregas corner wide left. (Technical difficulties are slowing me down. Read: my crappy computer.)

22:00 - PSV mounts its first attack on Arsenal in some minutes with a Mendez shot on goal from 22 yards. Arsenal is still unable to link up the midfield and strikers successfully so far.

25:00 - So far Rosicky seems to be the biggest threat for Arsenal but Adebayor looks like he could cause some trouble today. The reason Arsenal may be having trouble linking up is that PSV seems to 9 or 10 men behind the ball all the time with Kone up top on his own.

27:00 - Henry tried to squeeze one in over the keeper but sent the ball over the crossbar by a lot.

31:00 - Cocu has a strong shot easily stopped by Lehmann who was in perfect position. After a two good stops by both teams defenders, Arsenal found the possession and Henry found Rosicky who got off a good shot. Rosicky will be scoring or assisting in this game. Mark my words. He looks really good today.

32:00 - Smyth, the announcer, "we've seen both sides of Arsenal this year. The side that plays brilliantly and scores. And, the side that plays brilliantly and doesn't score." ????

37:00 - Pleasantly surprised that there has not been much diving and theatrics so far in the match.

40:00 - Culina just hit another of PSV's shots that went straight to Lehmann. Let me just say it is a real pleasure to see Henry on the ball. Right before Culina's shot he was on the ball for 10-15 seconds and nobody could take it from him and he got off a decent shot from the 18.

42:00 - Adebayor is called for the first offside of the match. That goes to show how tentatively this match is being played thus far. Right as I say that, Rosicky fed Henry the ball in traffic, the ball pops up in the air off a defender's foot and Henry volleys the ball at Gomes. Beautiful little play.

45:00 - Right before the end of the half Henry finds Adebayor on a through ball. PSV slows him up and Adebayor knocks it back to Henry who quickly turns and attempts to curl a shot into the right upper corner of the goal from the left side but it goes high as several of his attempts so far.

Halftime - 0 - 0.

Elsewhere, ManU and Lille are knotted at zero as are Celtic an AC Milan. However, Real Madrid is throttling Bayern Munich 3-1 with two goals by Gonzalez Blanco and one by Van Nistelrooy. I'll be putting up a new post for the 2nd half. Thanks for joining me.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Champions League LiveBlog Tomorrow

The Champions League Round of 16 begins tomorrow. There is a slate of 4 games on Tuesday and Wednesday. According to, the first leg of the Arsenal - PSV Eindhoven match will be on ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. (PST). I'll be liveblogging the match. Come join me if you can't watch the match and have some fun.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why Would Censor This?

Kevin Harvick won the 2007 Daytona 500 by inches over Mark Martin. I know this because I watched it on TV. I also saw a postrace interview of Harvick so I know what he said and I know he didn't say what quoted him as saying:

"I had Jeff Burton behind Matt Kenseth, and Kenseth just pushed the heck out of me," said Harvick, who was deep in the pack with 10 laps to go.
The only difference between what was actually said and what quoted him as saying was the replacement of "hell" with "heck." See here, here and here. I know in other interviews Harvick said 'heck' but never in the same wording as above.

But, seriously, why would they just change the word? It's not even really a swear word and on top of that there is no indication from the author that the quote has been changed. I don't know much about journalistic ethics but this doesn't strike me as within the bounds.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Time To Trade Zach Randolph

With the NBA trading deadline fast approaching, trade rumors swirl about players switching teams and one player that definitely needs to go is Zach Randolph. The Portland Trailblazers need to pass Randolph on like a hot potato and the team needs to do it now while his stock is high. Why is his stock high and why would the Blazers want to trade him? Let me explain.

Randolph in his sixth season is having his best statistical year ever. He leads the Blazers in points at 24.0 per contest and rebounds and 10.2. The numbers Randolph is putting up are All-Star caliber even if he didn’t get named to the squad. He has the great misfortune to play in the Western Conference with other stellar power forwards like Nowitzki, Garnett, Boozer, Brand, Duncan and Stoudemire, all of whom save Brand are all-stars this year. Of those western conference power forwards only Nowitzki is scoring at a better clip. Duncan, Boozer and Garnett outrebound him but not by much.

Moreover, Randolph has age on his side. He is only 25, whereas Duncan and Garnett are 5 years his senior, Nowitzki is 3 years older and Brand two. There is more time left in Randolph’s legs than some of these other guys, yet he already is putting up big numbers.

He also has shown that he is fully recovered from the tricky microfracture surgery he had two years ago. And, his body is going to hold up over the long haul because of this style of game. Randolph doesn’t play above the rim. He plays the angles and has a soft touch. His athleticism will never make you say wow, but that means he has a game built to last and will continue to put up solid numbers.

A team with a need for proven low-post scorer would be well served to acquire Randolph. But, why would the Blazers look to trade such a player?

The answer to that question can be found in the direction the franchise is trying to move. Portland wants to separate itself from its “Jailblazer” past and put a team on the floor the fans can respect. The franchise wants people with the ability to make good decisions on and off the floor. Unfortunately, Randolph has proven he is incapable of that and he must go.

Randolph has never been good at making the right choices. Let us just take a look at his Wikipedia entry:

[H]e sucker-punched teammate Ruben Patterson in the face during a practice scuffle in 2003, an act which earned him a two-game suspension. He also has been cited for underage drinking and driving under the influence of marijuana, and was present when his brother Roger Randolph was involved in a shooting in an Indiana nightclub. After an initial interrogation by police, he was threatened with arrest based on his statement; Randolph gave a second statement and was not charged in the incident. His brother was ultimately convicted in the matter and sentenced to prison.

On June 8th, 2006, Randolph ran into further legal trouble when two vehicles, both registered in his name, were pulled over by the Portland Police for racing in a 20 mph speed zone. Randolph's car contained two loaded weapons under the seat of the vehicle; Randolph had legal permits for both guns. The officers claimed they detected marijuana odor coming from Randolph's car. In August 2006, a sexual assault complaint was filed with Portland police over an incident with a stripper in a Portland hotel room; after a month-long investigation, the Multnomah County district attorney declined to prosecute Randolph, citing insufficient evidence. Additionally, Randolph is facing a civil suit related to that case, and another alleging that Randolph and friends tried to intimidate witnesses in former teammate Qyntel Woods's dog fighting case.

Let’s just say he doesn’t always make the smartest life decisions. The Blazers don’t want this guy to be the face of the franchise when he has a history like that. I've heard others argue that Zach hasn't been to jail yet and this is evidence that he won't ever go over the edge. But, you don't have to be an expert in criminal recidivism rates to know his track record suggests he will do something stupid again and maybe he won't be as fortunate with the legal system as he has been. All you have to know is that a leopard can't change its spots.

In addition, he just isn’t one to lead by example on the court. Head Coach Nate McMillan has tried to instill a work ethic into the squad but Randolph just doesn’t seem to want to listen.
In a recent practice, Randolph was benched by Coach McMillan because he wasn’t exerting as much effort as Coach would have liked. Randolph just doesn’t take instruction well. This is not a good example to be setting for the team since he is the defacto leader due to his veteran status and his numbers.

Zach Randolph will be a good player in this league for many years to come but he just shouldn't be the leader of the Blazers. Portland would much rather see Brandon Roy emerge as the team leader and trading Randolph would speed this process along. Now it is only a matter of getting a fair value for Randolph and not selling him just to get rid of him. Hopefully the Blazers realize this and manage to get a good deal for him.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Should Frank Deford Have An Issue With The Sports Guy?

This is a delicate situation because I don’t want to throw out allegations willy-nilly, so, I am asking for my few readers’ opinions. We'll let the people decide!

First, I will give you the facts. Bill Simmons, The Sports Guy, from is one of the best known sports columnists on the Web. His columns are read by hundreds of thousands and he creates a lot of page views of the WWL website. I confess, I generally like his work, although, he has been substandard for a while now. Anyway, it looks like TSG is reviving his blog and is talkin’ hoops on it. Here is a paragraph from his February 8th, 2007 entry:

Meanwhile, the NBA's main objective for the age limit has been realized -- namely, that we're getting to know future superstars before they actually enter the league. We're forming opinions on them. We're learning about them. In some cases (like myself with Durant), we're becoming fans of them. And that's a HUGE deal. The age limit wasn't about protecting these kids as much as cultivating them as properties over the long haul. For example, what would have been better for the league -- Durant getting drafted by the Raptors and playing 25 up-and-down minutes a game (like Bargnani right now), or Durant kicking butt in college and turning himself into a national phenomenon, someone who has every diehard basketball fan checking schedules to see when Texas is playing next? It's a no-brainer. Can you imagine a better scenario for the NBA than people spending the next five months arguing about Durant vs. Oden?

Immediately after reading that paragraph, I swore it sounded familiar and began scrambling for where I had heard it before and then I found it. I was perusing earlier and happened upon a link to an NPR piece by Frank Deford, the esteemed Sports Illustrated writing guru.

There is a brief synopsis of the spot here, and there is a link to the audio as well on that page. This is from the synopsis:
But what the professional league really hopes is that young players will build a reputation in college so that when they come to the NBA they'll be more recognizable — and more marketable.

In brief, Deford argues in the radio spot that the NBA is getting free marketing with the new 19 year-old age-limit for American high schoolers to enter the NBA because the future superstars have to spend a year “incarcerated” in college before entering the pro ranks. The league is getting all of this free build-up of the players in college that will entice people to follow them as rookies. His prime examples are Kevin Durant and Greg Oden of Texas and Ohio State, respectively, the two big freshmen in NCAA hoops this year. Listen to the clip, there is a full three and an half minutes on this subject. The dateline for the story is the morning of February 7th, 2007.

Listen to the audio and then compare it Simmons’ blog entry and tell me what you think. I am a bit perplexed. On the one hand, the idea isn’t necessarily novel because others have argued in the past that the age-limit gives the NBA free development of players, which would include the hype as well as the refined skills. On the other hand, both writers cite the same examples—Durant and Oden—and the dates of publication are so close to each other.

What do you think? Should Deford have a beef with Simmons now?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

About That U.S.A. - Mexico Match

Yesterday I wrote about the U.S. Men's Soccer Team 2-0 victory over Mexico and threw in at the end of the post a little quote about Mexico's lack of sportsmanship. I neglected to mention Mexican keeper Oswaldo "Dirty" Sanchez's attempted tackle on Eddie Johnson after Landon Donovan's second goal. Upon further review, I should have written about it because I saw it last night and thought it was dirty and the more I think about it, the more I am pissed about it. The Big Lead has rightfully called this to my and others attention.

There are only two excuses I have for not detailing this: 1) I couldn't find video or a picture to capture what had happened; and, 2) I was guilty of a desensitized view of Mexico, as in "same ol' shit, different day." Neither is acceptable and now I am going to rant.

First, though, let's put this in context. In the 90th minute, Donovan scored on a breakaway that was the fruit of a Mexican pass that deflected off the referee right onto an American's boot. Donovan completely deked the keeper out of his shorts and put the nail in Mexico's coffin. So what does "Dirty" Sanchez do? He sees Eddie Johnson cross in front of him as Sanchez goes to retrieve the ball from the back of the next and tries a studs-up slide tackle Johnson somewhat from behind. Mind you, the damn play had been done for a few seconds already. You can see "Dirty" Sanchez sliding in the background of the picture up top.

It was a completely classless, petulant and dangerous act on the part of the Mexican keeper. The play didn't seem to phase me, which really worries me. Is it because Mexico always plays extra-dirty against the U.S.? I can't say this with any definitiveness because I don't watch El Tri other than when it plays the Red, White and Blue. But, I do know that I have seen a lot of dirty play from Mexico. Headbutts, elbows and all other sorts of "gamesmanship" of the dirty variety. Granted, I am somewhat biased, but the scales of dirty play certainly are not balanced at this point. Lady DirtyPlay certainly leans to the South of the Border and "same ol' shit, different day" is no reason to let this continue.

Let's just put the act in perspective. This was very similar to the Albert Haynesworth/Marcus Vick stomps because all three occurred in deadball situations. Also, if "Dirty" Sanchez had connected with the tackle, he very well could have injured Johnson rather severely (a la Haynesworth) since he wasn't even the mindset of full-speed game action. For god's sake, he was celebrating a score. Granted, "Dirty" Sanchez was performing something more akin an actual "soccer act" whereas Haynesworth/Vick were both doing something that is completely outside of the rulebook.
Nevertheless, it was sick, attempted cheap shot and we should be outraged much as Bruce Arena and Eric Wynalda were on the broadcast. Sanchez should be punished severely for lack of sportsmanship. Fines and multi-game suspensions from Club/National team play are warranted to let it be known these actions are not tolerated by FIFA.

Here is the video of the event:

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

El Tri Left With Cero, Again

On Wednesday night, opposite the Duke-UNC mens basketball game, the U.S. Mens National Team renewed its heated rivalry the Mexican National Team, El Tri. At the University of Phoenix Stadium (nee Pink Taco Stadium) in front of a decidedly pro-Mexico crowd, the USMNT delivered yet another shutout on American soil with a 2-0 victory. It wasn't the prettiest victory and had Mexcio finished better and had luck on its side it easily could have been a victory for El Tri. Thankfully, it wasn't to be.

For this "friendly," Mexico recalled most of its players from overseas and had a very experienced squad on the pitch, while the U.S. recalled four from across the pond and mixed many fresh faces. The match started off slowly with neither team able to maintain much possession and no real opportunities. Not until late in the half did the Americans find their rhythm in the game.

The play opened up in the second half with both sides stringing together passes and creating some chances. In the 63rd minute the U.S. won a corner and Landon Donovan served a great ball that managed to reach Jimmy Conrad and he buried the ball in the left corner with a strong header beating the outstretched arms of Mexican keeper Oswaldo Sanchez.

After the goal, Mexico started push forward heavily and had a number of opportunities. U.S. keeper Tim Howard, recalled from his duties for Everton in the EPL, made several quality saves as Mexico devoured the outside defenders repeatedly. Howard made a good case to be the U.S. keeper of the present taking everything Mexico kicked at him. Although, the situation may have been worse had Mexico managed to put a quality touch on any number of balls (that didn't sound good, how about opportunities) that were right in front of the goal.

In the 90th minute, a bit of good fortune struck for the Americans when a Mexico back pass deflected off the referee. Ricardo Clark calmly collected the ricochet and fed it to Donovan who raced from just inside of midfield past a grasping defender and then juked the keeper for an easy tally.

At the end of the match, Mexico walked off without the customary handshakes and jersey exchanges which was emblematic of the sportsmanship of the Mexican side during the match and in the past. Although, I will say that the Americans have been guilty of bad sportsmanship, too.

A quick rehash of the good and the bad of USMNT. Good: Tim Howard--stopped everything; Jimmy Conrad--great defense, good offense and the winning goal; Landon Donovan--finally looked like a playmaker again with a goal and an assist; 2nd half Josh Bornstein--showed speed and determination. Bad: Chris Albright--couldn't stop an 8-year-old in the game; Chris Rolfe--did nothing, created nothing. Everybody else: mediocre or not enough time to judge.

Some good quotes from the ESPN match report:

"The sportsmanship -- it would be nice if you guys [reporters] and the Mexican press talked about it, because it's really poor," Donovan said. "When we lose to
them there, we shake their hands and say, 'Good job.' There's none of that
reciprocally, and it's kind of disappointing."

- Landon Donovan

"They were a little opportunistic and stayed in their own end for the majority
of the match, but they did beat us," Marquez said. "Considering the tactics that
they utilized, I think that is the credit I would give them considering the fact
that on the field, they were not superior to us."
-Rafael Marquez, Mexico captain

Update: I Dislike Your Favorite Team, one of my favorite sites I might mention, has a lovely round-up of this game.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Another American Invasion

Last weekend there was an American invasion during the Fulham-Newcastle match. Four American field players saw time in the match. Today, there was another American invasion in the boardroom of EPL giant Liverpool. Americans George Gillett and Tom Hicks purchased the Reds after a Dubai group backed out. This is the third EPL team to have American owners after Malcolm Glazer and Al Lerner purchased Manchester United and Aston Villa, respectively. Gillett and Hicks both own NHL teams and Hicks also owns the Texas Rangers baseball team.

The Americans say that profit is not their primary motive for purchasing the team. That, I find, is very hard to believe. Who would pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 million for a team and not look for a return on the investment.

Gillett and Hicks are looking to compete with Chelsea and Man United to be the biggest and best club in the world. Whether this means they will turn into the American version of Roman Abramovich remains to be seen, but I wonder how the American takeover will be received. When Glazer purchase ManU the supporters went berserk, partially because he plunged the team into debt. Yet, Aston Villa fans welcomed Lerner as a new owner. For their parts, Hicks and Gillett have said there will be no debt foisted upon Liverpool in this purchase. All of this could make for an interesting arms race during the summer transfer period.