I hate the offseason...

While I love Championship Manager '01-'02 and Winning Eleven 7, it isn't *quite* the same as being able to watch my teams (and all the other various games) every weekend.

However, while I'm still relegated to playing on Easy, I AM getting better at WE7...I had my best offensive game with it so far when I beat Perugia 2-0 with my Carmel United side. My friend from high school Greg had a thunderbolt turned aside from 45 yards, This guy had a bicycle kick volley cannon off the woodwork, and I scored a fantastic goal with my twin brother -- he stole the ball from a terrible clearance from the goalkeeper, used a spin move to beat two defenders, then sent a rocket into the top far corner -- sheer magic.

And, I finally got This guy on the scoresheet, finally. :)

Why yes, this was a worthless entry, but what do you want from me?!


Apparently, I don't update enough.

I have been rightly called out about not updating...I definitely haven't been eating enough souls lately. So, since I have no one overwheming thing to talk about, it's random grab-bag time.

Crystal Palace 1-0 West Ham

So yeah, did even the most fervent Eagles supporter see THIS coming when the season started? Always on the bring of administration, always on the brink of relegation to Division Two (which would then cause further financial problems), and with a diasastrous start to this season, what Palace have achieved this season is almost in the same ballpark as what Arsenal accomplished. Really. There's little one can say by way of description of this game and this season for Palace without delving into silly Hollywood territory. I wish I still had Fox Sports World, because I'm insanely curious as to the two goals in quick succession that the Hammers called back for offside. While I have to give the officals the benefit of the doubt for the simple reason that they were there there, and saw quite a bit more of the game than I did, the fact remains that (mainly due to yet more FIFA bungling), almost nobody in the world calls offside correctly or even consistently. Considering the implications of this match, you have to hope that they got both exactly right...it'd be such a shame if they got one wrong, and incorrectly consigned West Ham to another season in Division One. And, the Nationwide really is a quagmire...the longer you're in it, the harder it is to escape it. However, if Manchester City can rise like the phoenix from the depths of Division Two, then I suppose the Hammers can get back to the top flight if they play their cards well. On the other hand, anyone heard from Sheffield Wednesday lately? Coventry? Queens Park Rangers?

Ireland 0 - 3 Nigeria

No link here, because I don't even want to know. The lads played Nigeria at home as a World Cup tune-up in 2002, and lost then, too. With all the talent that Ireland has, it mystifies me how they continue to get such bad results lately.

Holland 0 - 1 Belgium

No link here, because I can't bring myself to care about a tune-up friendly between countries not named the USA or Ireland...however, this is a great win for the Belgians. They have such a long, horrifying history of drawing their bigger neighbors in major competitions, and always coming out on the short end (much like Austria against Germany)...so, while it's just a friendly, I'm usually a sucker for the little guy getting a swing in every now and then.

Anderton wants to come to MLS, mentions the DC Scum by name

Oh please, please, PLEASE let this jackass suit up for the Scum. First off, I don't want a former Tott'Scum player lining up for my Metros, and besides, our midfield is more than set anyway (on top of that, we're full-up on our senior international slots). I think DC has one, and I would love NOTHING better than to see them waste it on Sick Note and his dodgy Achilles tendon. Sorry, but the Monty Python "it got better!" defense wouldn't make me feel any better about this guy wasting space on MY team's roster and against my team's salary cap. Please Santa, PLEASE send this guy to DC...I'll be good ALL YEAR, I promise!

Bettman strongly hints at a lockout

Would any real hockey fan on Earth complain if Bettman were placed on a plummeting cable car to the sixth rung of hell? Take him, his moving of Canadian teams, his generic division names, his overexpansion, and the smarm that just OOZES off of him, and just make it go away...please.

Calgary 3, Tampa Bay 0

What a great series this has been...if only because it's being contested by two teams that don't take joy and fun out like the Devils and Ducks and Wild last season. It's not 1980s freewheeling hockey, but hey, I'm not so much a fan of that, either. This has been a wonderful mix of the two, fought well by two teams that are living and dying by their style and systems. Great coaching, lots of speed, great goaltending, great defense, great goals. This has easily been the best Stanley Cup Finals in recent memory. I still say Flames in 7.



You know why I hate sappy movies where the good guy always wins in the end?

Because, in reality, cheating, diving, hack artist thug teams like FC Porto can win the Champions' League. Sure, they've got talent, but the only reason they even got past Manchester United (and this is ME saying this) is because they're some of the most reprehensible fucks in the entire sport (not named Galatasaray)...they take every fucking shortcut they can, and are so smug and self-assured in doing so.

All I'll say is that they're fucking lucky they didn't run into Arsenal...we would have torn them a new fucking bleeding asshole.

Heh. There's some of the old Swift temper for you. :)


Dunfermline 1-3 Celtic....thank you, Henrik.

Truly world-class soccer players don't come down the pike that often...far fewer find their way to the Scottish Premier League. Fair's fair -- it's not one of the top leagues, and elite players tend to be just too good for the rest of the competition. A man who played his last game for Celtic FC this morning was not only too good for the Dunfermlines and Dundee Uniteds of the world -- he was way, way too good for our nearest and dearest rivals themselves.

Henrik Larsson came over seven seasons ago from Feyenoord, having had a somewhat unsuccessful spell there after doing well for Helsingborgs in his native Sweden. He immediately started hitting the net, and only got better and better as time went on. When "Ghod" first came over, the Bhoys were second-sisters to those blue cunts from the other end of Glasgow. However, his signing (and the appointment of former Leicester City maestro Martin O'Neill as manager) gave Celtic a foundation to build not only a championship side, but one that dominated Scotland, and came within a decent referee of beating those diving, cheating fucktards of FC Porto in the UEFA Cup final two seasons ago.

Most strikers fit into one of two templates -- either they're the tall center forward who scores with his head, or the small, nippy guy who uses skill and guile to score. Henrik did both equally well, and having big, strong forwards like Chris Sutton and John Hartson to partner him has only helped his cause.

As for the game itself, it was a simple story. Dunfermline was up 1-0 at the half thanks to Stuart Dougal inexplicably letting the Pars bodycheck our goalkeeper into next week, impeding his progress towards, a slow, looping ball that David Marshall would have gotten to otherwise. It wasn't so bad, though...we all knew Henrik was going to win it for us, and he did -- with two final world-class goals in a Celtic shirt. Sadly, I missed the second due to the fact that I was paying rent on those two Guinnesses, but it's no matter. Henrik goes out on a high, and once again, Celtic wins a Double. Great morning, great season, great Celtic career for Henrik.

So, whether he heads off to Spain, to Italy, to Germany, or the Premier League, I think I speak for every Hoops supporter when I say I wish him absolutely nothing but the best, as long as his side doesn't meet Celtic in the Champions' League. :)

So, for the last time, Henrik..."Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart...and you'll never walk alone".


Truly the world's game

As I was watching my Metros earn a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire, I wondered to myself: between the four top-flight teams I support (I didn't feel like looking up Brentford), how many countries would be represented among them?

Well, let's find out (only going with people who have appeared or have a chance to appear this season...I'm not trawling through the Under-18s or anything).

North America/Central America:

Honduras: Amado Guevara

Jamaica: Craig Ziadie, Fabian Taylor

Trinidad and Tobago: Cornell Glen

United States: Jonny Walker, Zach Wells, Eddie Pope, Chris Leitch, Jeff Parke, Kenny Arena, Tim Regan, Seth Stammler, Mark Lisi, Mike Magee, Mike Nugent, Mike Bradley, Joey DiGiamarino, Eddie Gaven, John Wolyniec, Frankie Simek, John O'Brien, Bob Bradley (manager)


Belgium: Joos Valgaeren, Wesley Sonck

Bulgaria: Stilian Petrov

Czech Republic: Michal Papadopulos, Tomas Galasek, Zdenek Grygera,

Denmark: Ulrik Laursen

England: Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, Martin Keown, Stuart Taylor, Graham Stack, Ray Parlour, David Bentley, Justin Hoyte, John Spicer, Alan Thompson, Chris Sutton

Finland: Jari Litmanen

France: Patrick Vieira (by way of Senegal), Robert Pires, Thierry Henry, Jeremie Aliadiere, Sylvain Wiltord, Pascal Cygan, Gael Clichy, Didier Agathe, Julien Escude, Arsene Wenger (manager)

Germany: Jens Lehmann

Greece: Janis Anastasiou

Holland: Dennis Bergkamp, Bobby Petta, Nigel de Jong, Sander Boschker, Ryan Babel, Tom De Mul, Daniel De Ridder, John Heitinga, Victor Sikora, Wesley Sneijder, Tom Soetaers, Maarten Stekelenburg, Rafael van der Vaart, Jelle van Damme, Thomas Vermaelen, Ronald Koeman (manager)

Northern Ireland: Neil Lennon, Martin O'Neill (manager)

Republic of Ireland: Liam Miller, Aiden McGready

Romania: Bogdan Lobont, Nicolae Mitea

Scotland: Craig Beattie, Robert Douglas, John Kennedy, Paul Lambert, Shaun Maloney (was also eligible to play for Malaysia), David Marshall, Stephen McManus, Jackie McNamara, Stephen Pearson, Jamie Smith, Ross Wallace

Slovakia: Stanislav Varga

Spain: Jose Antonio Reyes, Cesc Fabregas, David Fernandez

Sweden: Fredrik Ljungberg, Rami Shaaban, Henrik Larsson, Magnus Hedman, Johan Mjallby, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Switzerland: Philippe Senderos

Wales: John Hartson

South America

Bolivia: Joselito Vaca

Argentina: Sergio Galvan Rey

Brazil: Gilberto Flores, Edu, Gilberto Silva, Maxwell,
Guinea: Dianbobo Balde

Guyana: Mohammed Sylla


Uganda: Tenwya Bonseu

Cameroon: Lauren Bisan-Etane

Nigeria: Nwankwo Kanu

Ivory Coast: Kolo Abib Toure

Ghana: Anthony Obodai, Abubakari Yakubu

South Africa: Steven Pienaar

Tunisia: Hatem Trabelsi


Australia: Jason Culina

So, on just four teams, that's players from 35 countries on five continents...would have had all six if Junichi Inamoto had been able to stick around on the Arsenal squad. All in all, that's pretty damn impressive.

Simply the best

26 wins. 12 draws. 0 defeats. That was Arsenal's record this year in the English Premier League, and as far as I'm concerned, they are absolutely in the discussion for best single-season team of all time...in any sport.

As far as the English game goes, only one other side has achieved a similar feat -- Preston North End in the 1890s went 24 unbeaten to win the title in that season. However, Arsenal played 14 more matches alone, not to mention having to compete in the League Cup, the FA Cup, and the European Champions' League.

Not only did Arsenal beat the teams they were supposed to, they also did the business against the best the English game has to offer...to wit:

10/21 @ Manchester United: 0-0
10/21 vs. Newcastle United: 3-2
11/4 @ Liverpool: 2-1
10/18 vs. Chelsea: 2-1
2/21 @ Chelsea: 2-1
3/28 vs. Manchester United: 1-1
4/9 vs. Liverpool: 4-2
4/11 @ Newcastle United: 0-0

In the League Cup, which is admittedly an inferior competition, the club still made it to the semifinals using mainly the Under-21 players...including a stunning 5-1 demolition of Wolverhampton Wanderers. The FA Cup was a heartbreaking experience in the end, but the run to the semifinals included two 4-1 wins, a 5-1 win, and the excellent 2-1 defeat of Chelsea before we finally fell to Manchester United (who actually had a pretty good season against us, all things considered). The Champions' League was even more of a roller coaster -- the awful 0-3 home loss to Inter Milan, the dire draw against Lokomotiv Moscow, the bad loss to Dynamo Kiev. But, the Arsenal got rolling against Kiev at Highbury before the now-legendary 5-1 win at the San Siro against Inter. Of course, we demolished a hurting Celta Vigo side in the round of 16 before the unfortunate loss to Chelsea in the quarterfinals -- a deserved win for them, which had to be the highlight of their season.

Now, let's not forget the players. Any talk about this team has to start with the incomparable Thierry Henry, the man who got robbed in the World Player of the Year voting. He netted 38 times in all competitions, and I'd tell you how many assists he had on top of that if I could fucking FIND it anywhere. Robert Pires came agonizingly close to the 20 mark, hitting the back of the net 19 times (amazing for a left winger).

I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart:

The First-Choice 11: Jens Lehmann, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Kolo Abib Toure, Lauren Bisane-Etanne, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira (captain), Gilberto Silva, Fredrik Ljungberg, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp

The Legend: Martin Keown

The Reserves: Ray Parlour, Graham Stack, Pascal Cygan, Edu, Nwankwo Kanu, Sylvain Wiltord

The Future: Jeremie Aliadiere, David Bentley, Jose Antonio Reyes, Gael Clichy, Ryan Garry, Phillipe Senderos, Stuart Taylor, Michal Papadopulos, Quincy Owusu Abeyie, Cesc Fabregas, Ryan Smith, Josh Spicer, Olafur-Ingi Skulason, Frankie Simek, Justin Hoyte, and Craig Holloway.


My fucking god...

This new version of Blogger is shitty and buggy and it fucking sucks my left nut.

My fucking god...

This new version of Blogger is shitty and buggy and it fucking sucks my left nut.


Fulham 0-1 Arsenal

The nature of the result isn't what's important here, quite frankly. For the record, it was Jose Antonio Reyes who lifted us to victory at Craven Cottage, continuing his progress in adjusting to life in the EPL. That said, the important thing is that Arsenal is exactly 90 minutes away from completing a top-division English season unbeaten, something that hasn't been done since Preston North End did it in the late 1890s or so (keep in mind that Preston's season was much shorter...I think it may have been 20 or 24 matches).

Looking back on the season, it's amazing that even a side as good as this one can accomplish what Arsenal have (almost) done. Some of it is luck, some of it is an amazing group of players in both skill and chemistry, and most of it is the fact that we have arguably one of the best managers who has ever drawn breath. The only thing standing in our way is already-relegated Leicester City at home next weekend. It won't be the walkover everyone thinks it will be -- the already-dead sides have a habit of achieving fantastic results just by sheer effort and desire to go out on a high. However, I can't see this Arsenal team not getting at least a draw against the Foxes...especially at home.

So, let me get this straight. Arsenal are already the champions, and just may do so unbeaten for the entire season. Glasgow Celtic are the champions, and could (and should) win the Scottish Cup as well. Ajax Amsterdam strolled to the Dutch Eridivise championship. The Metrostars just may have their best chance to win silverware ever this season. The Canadiens are steadily improving, and are worthy of the CH that they wear on their chests now. The Giants and Lakers...well...errr....yeah. Still, even with those two downers, YES PLEASE. Give me this year again next year!

San Jose 5-5 Metrostars

Man, what a crazy match THAT was.

The funny thing was, neither team was especially horrible on defense, and neither goalkeeper had much of a chance on any of the 10 goals. Actually, and this is very nice to see in MLS (and an indication on the slow-but-steady growth in talent and skill within the league), all 10 goals came from outstanding team play or individual efforts. I can look you in the eye and say that Fabien Taylor and Joselito Vaca scored on absolute thunderbolts that would have made Thierry Henry proud. Really. Landon Donovan had a tremendous game on the other end, and each team got one semi-dodgy penalty.

I think it's beyond doubt that these are the two best offensive clubs in MLS, and if I have my way, NY vs. San Jose would be not only the US Open Cup Final, but the MLS Cup Final as well. I can't wait for their trip to the Swamp.


Mets 6, Giants 2

At the subtle "the devil made me do it" urges of my twin, I splurged and got a $36 field seat for the game tonight. They were great seats, like 5 rows from the field, right in line with the left fielder (issues about sightlines to third base aside). That was most of the good news for the evening, and my notorious tight-fistedness should put that in perspective.

And then there was everything else. First off, I paid almost forty dollars -- four hours of work -- to see Jeffrey fucking Hammonds hit cleanup. Yep. because when you think of guys who can clear the bases, you think of Hammonds. Barry Bonds had the night off (I hope it was just the night off...I'm going tomorrow, too), and Alou also rested AJ Pierzynski, who's actually been hitting some lately. Great. Take those two guys out of the lineup, and it's a scary sight watching them try and score runs. Our lineup tonight went:

Dallimore (new guy, hitting pretty OK since coming up to the bigs)

As you can imagine, that's a lineup to strike fear into even the greatest of Little League teams....except maybe the Japanese kids. And, predictably, they didn't do much with the sticks all night...it was mainly bad defense from the Mets that allowed the Giants to get their runs. However, Edgardo Alfonzo had an awful night on defense himself, and that contributed almost as much as anything to the loss tonight. However, Dallimore had a blinder defensively, to the point where the eventually took Fonzie out and moved Dallimore over to second (putting Pedro Feliz in at third). You know, I understand that one of the more unknown drawbacks of being the visiting fan is that you often have to suffer the desires of the manager needing to rest players (they're not going to do it at home...I'd estimate a thousand or so paid money to see the Giants tonight, as opposed to 40,000 at Pac Bell), but while I can't change it, I can certainly whine about it.

However, the flat-out worst managerial move since Grady Little was probably the biggest factor in at least the nature of the loss, if not the loss itself. In the 6th inning, the Giants were rallying, and had already scored once to take a 2-1 lead. The bases were loaded, two outs, with the pitcher coming up. Now, if the pitcher is still going strong, then fine, the likelihood is that you're better off losing out on the 2-out chance to keep your starter in (which also preserves your bullpen, and leaves your better bench players for the end in case you need them). However, while Tomko did have I think it was 5 consecutive ground ball outs at that point, he was shaky in doing so. He was behind on everyone, and had already thrown over 100 pitches. Of course, Tomko pops out, then gets the ever-loving shit kicked out of him in the bottom of the 6th to essentially seal the deal.

Now, it isn't THAT cut-and-dried, of course. If Alfonzo had made the play in the bottom of the 6th, the sacrifice grounder would have been the third out, and then they could have lifted Tomko with no further damage. But, not only did it cost us runs, I'm amazed that Alou didn't have anyone warming up in case Bombko flagged. Getting 5 useful innings out of him is something you take running to the bank, especially with a pitch count over triple digits. When Jim Brower finally came in to get Zeile out to end the inning, it was a 5-2 game, and there's no way THIS Bonds-less offense is coming back. Sadly, Brower looked like shit in the seventh, giving up four hits and one run (a nice double play spared him any further assaults on his ERA). However, David Aardsma looked pretty goddamn good in the 8th, hitting 94-95 on his fastball and he seemed to change speeds nicely, although the angle of our sight wasn't the best for determining that sort of thing.

Steve Trachsel had a nice outing for the Mets, pitching 8 pretty strong innings. Unsurprisingly, Kaz Matsui is tbe guy that is going to make their offense go, the rare times that it does. That said, they got some production from some unlikely sources (Hi, Jason Phillips!), and I suppose this is one of those games that you just say "fuck it" to and move on.

Again, I really like this Dallimore kid. It looks like the defense is definitely there, and if he can hit .270 or so, then fuck it, he should be in there every day...especially when compared to the rest of the putzes wearing the "SF" this season. If I had my way, the lineup would look like this most days (when at full strength, of course):

2B Durham
CF Grissom
LF Superman
C Pierzynski
3B Dallimore (assuming the .270 mark, of course)
1B Snow
RF Tucker
SS Cruz

I'll end with a thought that I had. I wonder if someone has already taken the time to research this, but I wonder: Barry Bonds can't play forever, of course. When he does retire, that is going to free up quite a lot of money for us. My question is, assuming the best possible use of that money (never a sure thing the way Sabean has been going, but work with me here), can the 2 or 3 players we'd sign with that cash come anywhere near replacing Barry's effect on the lineup? Can any 3 mid-range players do it? Four? Five? What if we got a real No. 2 to pitch behind Jason Schmidt? Maybe a No. 3 while we're at it (at least to keep the pressure off Jarome Williams for another season or so)? Any thoughts?



So, I'm watching Baseball Tonight, and they're talking about on-base percentage. Chris Berman asks if we should care about this stat a month into the season, and I immediately had my hackles raised up. Then, Harold Reynolds opened his mouth, and my feeling was justified....

He basically said that the stat is overrated because people with high OBP don't tend to score a lot of runs, the examples of which are Jason Giambi, Frank Thomas, and Jason Varitek. Right. A guy with wonky knees, a big fat guy, and a catcher are his main exhibits in his argument. He also said that people with high OBP "clog the bases". What? Clog the fucking bases? What on earth does that even MEAN? Is there any universe where that statement nears even half-intelligence?

I could go into great length as to why this is so unbelivably stupid, but why waste the effort? Those of us who know better don't need the explanation, and older guys set in their ways wouldn't listen anyway. Sigh.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?