Different Picks.

And a Puppy!

Well, I’m not quite ready to enter a world where I have to talk about something aside from picks on Fridays.  February is going to be a tough month.  Maybe I’ll start reporting on the weather in Clearwater.  For now, to ease the transition and to kill time before Super Bowl Sunday, I’m going to make some other–less glitzy–selections.  We’ll keep track of how I do.  The 52% winning standard I set on football is going to be awfully tough to live up to.  Let’s make some bank….

The Abu Dhabi Classic:

This is a tightly bunched field.  Tiger fired a 69 in round two to pull into a massive logjam in 4th place, two shots behind Thorbjorn Olesen.  Oh, you haven’t heard of Thorbjorn?  The leader is currently 16/1 to bring this home, but I’d never touch such an unknown commodity.  The conditions are apparently getting tougher, which might bode well for Tiger’s putting woes.  If no one goes real low, he’ll be right there.  Give me…

4,000 units on Tiger at 3/1:  Tiger is the co-favorite right now with Rory McIlroy, but Rory doesn’t quite look on his game.  I think Tiger  has a pretty good shot at this thing.  Sorry Tiger fans out there for that massive hexola.

1,000 units on Sergio Garcia at 14/1:  Serigio is currently three shots behind Olesen, but only one back of the massive pack at 5-under.  Sergio got back in the winner’s circle late last year with back-to-back wins.  This could finally be his year–13 years after the fact.

1,000 units on Robert Rock at 25/1:  Rock is a solid player in the pack at 5-under and only name recognition I imagine is keeping his odds this high.  Is Tiger 8 times more likely to win than Rock?  No way.  He’s worth a little flier.

***

The Pro Bowl:

It’s back in Hawaii this year.  I think it’s just easier to ignore, more comfortable for everyone if they keep this game off the mainland.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any prop bets on the Pro Bowl.  That felt like it would have been more fun than  picking the game, but apparently there wouldn’t have been a lot of action on such trivial matters.  Give me…

2,500 units on UNDER 74 points.  I know that no one plays defense, but I don’t think they’ll try hard enough to roll up 11 TDs either.  This is a vacation for these guys.

***

UFC on Fox 2:

Did everyone watch the UFC’s last fight on Fox?  It lasted about 90 seconds.  They didn’t show the undercard and it was 45 minutes of talking, 2 minutes of fighting and then another 13 of talking.  Not a great showcase, except for the knockout.  I think there are 3 televised bouts on Fox this time around, but don’t hold me to that.  The main-event is a light-heavyweight match between former champion Rashad Evans and the undefeated prospect Phil Davis.  Give me…

5,000 units on Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis at +160.  First of all, I challenge you to bet against someone using the nickname, “Mr. Wonderful.”  Can I put some money on Paul Orndorff this weekend?  Davis is a 4-time All-American wrestler from Penn State, he’s a total beast, and Evans has already peaked in my mind.  This is like free money.

***

The Australian Open:

Did we remember the 1st tennis major of the season was going on?  Look at how nicely this weekend is shaping up.  Unfortunately, my pre-tournament picks of Roger Federer and Serena Williams have already taken a hike, so I’ll need to recalibrate my tennis prognostication machine.  The problem is, since these matches are in Australia, I have absolutely no idea when they’re being played.  Give me…

1,000 units on Maria Sharapova at +110 over (Something) Azarenka.  After I made my Serena call I was a little bummed because I immediately read a couple of stories on how sharp Sharpova was looking.  She’s been on fire to this point, and who can turn down an opportunity to bet on Maria?

1,000 units on Rafa Nadal at +135 over Novak Djokovic.  We all know that Novak is the new Rafa, who was the new Rodge, but if I’m reading the schedule right–and I’m probably not–I think Nadal has one extra day of rest and Novak is coming off a tough 5-setter over perennial bridesmaid Andy Murray.  Nadal in four.

***

The NHL All-Star Game

Here’s something I’m sure you had no idea was going on this weekend.  There’s a hockey All-Star game?  There is, and YOUR Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen are all suiting up.  The NHL is still doing its Captain’s choice thing so the teams are “Team Alfredsson” and “Team Chara.”  The game’s in Ottawa if that matters to anyone.  And, now that I started typing this, I see there isn’t a line posted.  What?  Well, I’m not going to delete so, Give me…

1,000 units on Team Alfredsson (-110) over Team Chara.  I’ll just assume it’s even odds.  And, there’s no way I’m betting on Chara for anything.

***

Your Philadelphia 76ers:

The Sixers have been sneaky cover machines.  When they win–they win big.  And, they’ve covered some massive lines.  How do they do it?  With defense and effort.  Apparently it’s not illegal to guard people for 4 quarters in the NBA.  Who knew?

Give me 2,500 units on the 76ers (-16) over the Bobcats.  Judging by this line, the Bobcats must really stink.  The Sixers are a little thin down low right now, but you know what that means?  Yep, 20 and 12 for Elton.  No problem.  This should be a cakewalk.

***

Let Me Find a Soccer Game:

A couple of years ago I heard about this thing called, “El Clasico.”  It’s a game between Real Madrid and Barcelona.  The way I heard people talk about this game I thought it was like the Haley’s Comet of sporting events.  But, they play each other at least twice a year.  Let’s lose some of the hyperbole.  This is like an NFL regular season divisional game.  That was just a random soccer thought.  Give me…

1,000 units on Villareal and Barcelona Draw at +450.  How can you turn down a chance to bet a draw?  I feel like that’s some really advanced soccer betting.  What are you rooting for?  A tie, baby!

***

So, there you have it.  Twenty thousand units in play.  And, you thought it was going to be a slow weekend.

Phils Push Aside Braves.

In Real Life Tom Isn't Afraid of Jerry.

Go back to Atlanta, mutts.  Go back to your converted Olympic stadium that gets jammed 1/2 full every night, go back to your tomahawk chopping SEC fans, and drink in the fact that you can’t score off Philly’s starters and your manager is absolutely running your lights out bullpen into the ground.  I know the arms out there are young, but I think James Andrews is going to have his hands full in the near future.  When guys are on pace for 90 appearances, you have issues.  

I think that is one fundamental difference that we can take from the weekend series.  The Phillies were in control of the game late on Sunday, but when Atlanta couldn’t go to their top guns the Phillies pounded out season-high hits and runs numbers.  A game with a bit of tension turned into a laugher.  If you are going to build your team on pitching, you have to have guys that can go deep into games.  Derek Lowe throws about 20 pitches an inning.  Braves starters have piled up a grand total of 3 complete games.  Now, you’re probably going to come back at me and say that the Phillies starters are throwing too many innings.  Well, that’s not the same thing in my opinion.  The Phillies starters have prepared themselves for this workload.  No reliever can prepare for 90 outings.  

And, it’s going to be difficult for the Braves to rest their key relievers because they play an inordinate amount of close games and they don’t score very many runs.  You’d have to expect that their bullpen performance will trail off in the 2nd half, so instead of worrying about what would happen if Jayson Heyward and Dan Uggla got hot, maybe Braves fans should be worried about what would happen if their top-4 relief pitchers can’t pitch to a 2.00 ERA from now until eternity.  

The Phillies offensive outburst on Sunday proved they can still hit bad pitching, and it proved that Raul Ibanez is still a streaky hitter, but I doubt it will be a springboard toward a huge 2nd half.  Although, there are positive signs.  If you take out Saturday’s game–this is probably the best stretch of 2 weeks the Phils have had since they opened the season.  The Phillies are actually averaging just over 6 runs a game in July (that includes two 14-run outbursts and two 1-run face plants), and a portion of the line up (Rollins/Brown/Mayberry) seems to be trending up.  And, they’ve done all of this without much help from their most consistent hitter to date, Shane Victorino and without the hobbled Placido Polanco.  

If we’re looking for a team that might play even better in the 2nd half, I’d start with the Phillies.  They aren’t going to score 6 runs a game, but really since Utley has been back things haven’t been that bleak. If they can get healthy and if they can get a workable platoon going in the outfield (either Mayberry/Ibanez or Traded for Bat/Ibanez or Both), you’d have to expect a more productive offense in the 2nd half, especially if Ryan Howard can go on some version of his typical August/September run.  

This is certainly a glass half full look at the Phillies, but on pace for 100 wins, what other outlook can you have?  That’s the team you’re afraid of?  Atlanta?  After they scored 7 runs in three games, after they showed they are equally inept at hitting left-handed pitching?  Yes, Hanson pitched a great game.  He’s a front-line starter.  It happens.  It could conceivably happen in the playoffs, but if the Phillies and Braves meet the Braves will have to win 4 of 7.  A tall order.  They’d also have to get by the NLDS.  Is this where I mention Atlanta’s historical uncanny ability to lose playoff series?  

In summation, enjoy the break, Phillies fans.  Give your brain a 4-day rest.  It probably needs it.  

***

Speaking of the break, isn’t it a shame that baseball is stuck with the home run derby?  It’s not a sport that really lends itself to skill competition.  It’s too bad they can’t put in some type of temporary wall and have guys trying to hit bombs over a 50-foot monster, and we obviously can’t do anything like fastest pitch, or fastest runner or any modification of what the other sports do.  We’re left with guys taking BP.  The first round is always good for some oohs and ahhs, but that’s about it. If anyone out there has an idea for an All-Star game event for baseball, I’d love to hear it.  All-Star week needs a breath of life.  

***

And, in conclusion, US Women’s soccer 2 wins away from the Women’s El Cupo Worldo.  Riveting and Captivating had a baby on Sunday afternoon.  That game was wild.  Clearly, I didn’t actually see it, but Marta can go commiserate with the Braves.  

 

Women’s El Cupo Worldo or the NBA Draft

Welcome to Cleveland

The sports world is boring me to death right now.  Aside from that 40 minute stretch last night when Tony LaRussa did one of his, “maybe I’m not smart just because I wear glasses,” routines there is very little happening.  I almost took off the entire day in protest.  What do you talk about in the throes of what is now officially the summer slump?  I thought briefly about whether I could make a whole post dedicated to why peanut butter is the best food to eat with your fingers.  I’m sure I could have done it, it’s no secret I can get a little wordy, but maybe we’ll save that for another time.  My next thought was, do you know what I miss?  El Cupo Worldo.  Everyone loves soccer, everyone loves their country, they should play that thing every year.

Of course, they don’t.  The United States soccer team is currently engaged in something I believe is called The Gold Cup. From what I understand it’s a very elaborate tournament put together so we can lose to Mexico in the finals.  Zing.  But, I did note that in the preliminary stages the squad was bested by Panama.  I mean, great canal, didn’t know they played soccer there.  This brought up all my old frustrations with the U.S. team, no need to detail them here, I’m sure we’re all on the same page.  The Gold Cup, regardless of success, is no El Cupo Worldo.  First of all, I don’t see Switzerland anywhere in the field.  And, just when I realized I might have to wait for Brazil to tag another post, El Cupo Worldo, I get wind that the Women’s event is about to go down in Germany.  Thank god.

Now, the Women’s World Cup doesn’t have Switzerland either, and it doesn’t have Xavi (pronounced Chabby), or Chabby Alonzo, and the American uniforms may look like a short-sleeved chef’s jacket, but the old Red, White & Blue has a chance at this thing (I’m assuming we’re still good at women’s soccer).  Is this event televised?  I have no idea.  I do know that it is being held in Germany, and it starts Sunday, so get in the mix.

Because, really, if you aren’t talking Women’s El Cupo Worldo in the coming weeks, what are you going to be talking about? Certainly not the NBA Draft.  Not the worst draft class ever.  Not the NBA Draft that officially became more boring than the MLB Draft.  Not another draft for a league that might not even play its next season.  I’d contend that the NBA Draft is the least satisfying of them all.  Why?  Because you know.  You almost always know beforehand what your team has done. Every couple of years you get a sleeper, but I’d say the bust to sleeper ratio is about 12:1.

Look at Cleveland.  They have 2 of the first 4 picks, which would normally be a pretty nice haul, but in this draft they might as well be picking 17th and 40th.  I’ve heard this is a nine player draft.  It looks like a zero player draft to me.  I wouldn’t touch Derrick Williams.  I wish I knew NBA players so I could make an accurate comparison, but Derrick Williams looks like that guy that gets to the NBA level, suddenly is just average athletically and his whole game falls apart.  Oh, I know who to compare him to.  He’s Evan Turner as a 3/4 instead of a 2/3.  Money.  And, Kyrie Irving has that feel to him as well, not that he’s similar to Turner, but just in the sense that he feels like a massive consolation prize, and that is what Cleveland is getting.

Hopefully for the sake of the remaining Cavs fans they get their hands on this Enes Kanter character, because at least with him there is total and complete mystery.  You hear about this guy, and it sounds like he’s played two organized games in his entire life, but in one of them he dominated Jared Sullinger.  Kanter could be a horrific bust, and odds would probably lean that way, but at least you would have a glimmer before he steps on the court and goes Darko.  Anyone else you take you know you are getting mediocrity.  Which is what the Sixers will get with their pick, whether it be an un-toolsy college big man, or some 200 lb, 7-footer from Europe, you know the team isn’t getting any better in this draft.

So, what are you more looking forward to?  A couple of hours on Thursday night of people towering over David Stern, or a couple of weeks of watching whoever replaced Mia Hamm on the U.S. Women’s El Cupo Worldo team?   And, don’t forget Marta.

Triple Header.

Over/Under For the City of Brotherly Love This Weekend: 2.5 Wins.

Quickly, in reference to the headline, how about the Mets and Rockies playing a daytime doubleheader yesterday?  How old-school was that?  The Mets got swept, and got you back home in time for dinner.  Of course they used to schedule doubleheaders.  Day-Night, or Twi-Night Doubleheaders.  When I was about 5 I think I called them Twilight Doubleheaders, which obviously makes no sense.  Anyway, no doubleheaders this weekend, but three of the city’s four sports teams will play on Saturday, two of them in playoff series, and the other is the team the city really cares about.

Flyers:

Flyers kitten just rolled out of bed.  He is in bad shape.  He’s sitting next to me right now and he just cracked a raw egg into a glass of tomato juice then gave me the kitten finger.  Despite the Flyers decent effort last night, they still got shut out, which means there will be plenty of concern.  Goal scoring droughts in the playoffs are as sure as the sun coming up in this city.  We all remember the Ottawa series when they scored 2 goals.  It was 10 years ago, but we all remember it. The key for the Flyers is to not adopt the fans’ panic, and keep trying to get to Ryan Miller.  They can’t squeeze their sticks too tight, in hockey parlance.  Good news is Bob looked pretty strong and it wasn’t as if Buffalo blew the Flyers off the ice.

Sixers

The Sixers are blessed with absolutely no expectations.  All of the goodwill they built up during the year by turning themselves into a playoff team and putting out good effort would be a little tarnished if they got man-handled in 4-straight by the Heat, but I don’t know anyone who genuinely thinks they are going to win the series.  If you happened to be a Sixers fan, it must be an odd position to be in.  You are massive underdogs, you want to say this season was a success, but looking ahead there’s really no sign that this could get a whole lot better any time soon.  The majority of the eyes will be on the Heat on Saturday to see how they respond to a playoff scenario.  Is there going to be another gear there?  Will the Sixers expose something a better team will be able to take advantage of?  Can the Sixers win a playoff game without the Mayor of Mixville behind a microphone?  Lot of questions…

Phillies

Cliff Lee was all filthy last night against the Nats.  It is such a joy playing the Nats when Blanton doesn’t spot them a 5-run lead.  Lee’s “command” problems look like a one and done type of thing, but he is a guy that occasionally gets hit hard.  Hopefully he can stretch the gap between those instances as far as possible.  The best news out of Phillies-dom might be that Chase Utley ran yesterday.  Sounds like it went OK, and more importantly Chase seems to be making incremental progress toward returning.  I think some people feared the worst and thought Chase wouldn’t play this year, but now it seems almost inevitable that sometime next month, or maybe around the beginning of June he’ll at least give it a go.

Phillies open the series against the Marlins with Roy Oswalt against Javy Vazquez.  The Phils are facing a lot of big names from the previous decade.  We had Lowe, Livan Hernandez, and now Vazquez.  Florida is off to a decent start, they are sitting in 2nd place in the division, but the Phils will be a little jump in competition for them.  Good news is that the Phils miss Josh Johnson, the Marlins ace.  Kid looks like he is dying to throw a no-hitter this year.  Bad news is that Joe Blanton will not miss the Marlins and we’ll have to see in the series finale whether or not he’s figured out his mysterious problems from the stretch.  Phils are right on my winning formula this year, winning every series, we’ll see if they can make it five straight.

So, if we have 3 Phillies games, and 1 Flyers and Sixers game each, are we going Over or Under 2.5 wins?

***

MLB Underdog of the Day:  Yesterday’s Result: Loss.  Financial Status: (-475 Skeeball Tickets)

So, Bruce Chen twirled a masterpiece last night to beat me.  If you need any further proof that something amazing is going on here, well…I’m doing all I can.  To be 1-6 at this point isn’t just remarkable, it’s pretty much unheard of.  I’m telling you, when the Blue Jays blew that lead this week it was a sign.

Today’s Selection:  Texas (+115) over New York.

Ivan Nova, I’d like to introduce you to the Texas Rangers line up.  Chuck and Duck.

***

Quiz of the Day:  Celebrity Mug Shots.  Category: TMZ Fodder.  My Score: 18/24.

Iniesta Ruins Everything.

Coupla Three People in Spain Watched this One.

El Cupo Worldo:  The Culmination.  This is what we put all these hard weeks in for, right?  We get to see one country end almost a century of frustration, hoist the trophy that the United States will never hold…they even kept the game on ABC.  I tune in to see a quick 30 minutes on the Magic Bullet, but no, it’s the World Cup final preview show with Alexi Lalas and British Alexi Lalas.  I didn’t watch any of that, and hardly watched the game either.  I couldn’t fathom the difference between Xavi and Xabi Alonzo.  I actually thought this was the same person until this afternoon.  I just thought sometimes there was enough time to say his full name, and sometimes there wasn’t.

Regardless, I was bored out of my mind, but as extra time waned I thought to myself, I’d like to see a shootout.  More commonly known as a “soccer-off.”  A complete BS way to decide things, but it probably would have been exciting.  Unfortunately, Iniesta ruined the show, with the help of Xavi (pronounced Chavvy), but don’t hold me to that.  It could have been Chabby Alonzo.  The game was actually a good display of why there shouldn’t be a shootout. If you want to be fair, play until there is a winner.  The Netherlands eventually wore down, got a red card, and buckled.  Spain was better, and they won. Another five minutes they could have lost the soccer-off.  But, that’s futbol.

Mike Vick will be the Greatest Home QB in NFL History.

Old Number seven isn’t allowed to leave the state.  Thank god the Eagles don’t practice in Jersey like the Flyers do.  When Vick signed with the Eagles I tried to cool everyone’s hysteria one way or the other.  One year experiment, not much downside, maybe he helps in some short yardage situations…that kind of thing.  I never would have imagined year-two of the Vick era and yet here the Eagles are.  The shooting outside of Vick’s 30th birthday party is the kind of story that frustrates a fan, but doesn’t surprise them.  I’m sure Eagles fans at this point are asking, why is this guy here?  And, that’s an on and off the field question.  They brought him in and hardly played him, have kept him, and now sit on their hands as the details and the consequences of the birthday incident come to light.  This is just classic stubborn behavior from the Eagles.  We’ll fix him, we’ve never made a bad decision, it goes on and on.  Just cut the guy, sign Garcia and go 8-8.  You look foolish otherwise.

Phillies Complete Least Convincing Sweep of All-Time.

When the Phillies came charging back in the ninth inning on Friday night I got a couple, “Is this the turnaround” texts.  Everyone likes to predict these moments.  Really good teams don’t need them, but when you are trying to stay positive, you latch onto anything possible. Cody Ransom saved the season, baby!  I was skeptical at best, the Phillies have false started out of their offensive slump a few times, and five minutes after a game it is easy to overstate its importance.  The allowance I made was, if they sweep, I’d put the odds at  1 in 5 that they had turned some type of corner.  Well, they swept, but seeing as they were almost the victim of a perfect game in the process and scored a grand total of 2 runs over the last two games, I wouldn’t say they are charging into the break.  But perhaps, I am wrong.  If this Phillies team is anything, they are over-confident in their own abilities.  They could be headed toward their mini-vacations thinking they totally dominated.  But, the truth is, the problems are still glaring and none of that is going to change in 3 days.

Complaint of the Weekend:

You know what I hate?  The mini-sports updates before a game comes on national television during the weekend.  A game, a golf tournament, whatever it may be  is supposed to start at 3.  They do the intro, but then it’s like, “We’re going to send you back to the Sports Desk for an Update.”  What?  What year is this?  They kick it back to some guy in the studio who tells you that Cliff Lee lost his Texas debut the night before, and LeBron went to Miami (breaking!).  They act like your brain is on a 18 hour delay.  The studio guy sits there all afternoon to chime in with, “And Lance Armstrong crashed for the 10th time and rolled down a mountain.”  Yeah, we know.  We heard about it, we’re not in 1985 anymore when you woke up and the late baseball scores weren’t in the paper and there was no way, not a single way you could get the results. Enter the 21st century.  Down with the Sports Update.  Hate it.

Video of the Weekend.

This video is hilarious.  It takes me back to a time when Sportscenter anchors were actually funny.  Remember the soft, supple Corinthian leather days?  Remember the first time you heard, “As cool as the other side of the pillow,” and it BLEW your mind (because the other side of the pillow is cool)?  This takes me back to that.  Somebody give this guy Kilborn’s Fox show. Sorry it’s just a link, couldn’t get the video to embed. Really Funny Video.

Protection From What?

Zee Germans?

I’ll use this line every single time I reference Germany.  Go ahead and watch me do it.  Massive Germany/Spain soccer game this afternoon that I’m not going to watch.  This isn’t to say that I’m not mildly interested in the result.  Go ahead and let me know who wins, but the game itself?  Not too interested (shaking my head like a four-year old presented lima beans).  Is this game one of those semifinals that are actually the finals?  You know, like what everyone was saying about the Blackhawks/Sharks series.  That turned out to be true, damn you Leighton, but you’ve got the pre-tournament favorites against the Loyola Marymount of Soccer.  I get the feeling that this spells bad news for the Dutch.  And, are the Dutch really going to win a World Cup?  Come on now.  If they change the shootout to a 5,000 speed skate, maybe I’ll buy it.

Depending on where you get your news (legitimate outlets, or the comments section of this website), the game appears to be a pretty close match-up.  This despite the fact that Germany loses one of the nine Mueller brothers to yellow card violations (a rule I find appalling), the momentum they bring into the match has a lot of people picking them to advance, including some guy at ESPN who I would imagine covers soccer for a living.  We had a nice argument about this game yesterday here, and the funny thing was I believe both parties picked Spain, it was just the details or people’s reaction to the outcome that was being debated.  Two picks for Spain, on this site?  You know what that means people.  Pawn the Christmas ham and put those coins on the Germans.  Here’s hoping the game goes to penalty kicks or PKs as they say in the biz.

Unrelated Good News not worthy of a Full Post, so I pair it with a half-ass soccer post:  I went to the trunk of my car yesterday to retrieve a gift card that I had gotten for Christmas.  Why a gift card in the trunk?  Why not, I say.  Anyway, not only was that gift card there, but I found another one from Barnes and Noble.  It was still securely in its package, so I knew I had the full value.  The timing of this was impeccable, because I was actually going to the book store.  You probably don’t believe me, but this is the kind of thing that can happen in real life if you just put yourself out there.  It was better than finding cash for me, because cash you can spend, but I can buy these books and put them on my shelves to create an illusion of intelligence for a lifetime.  I walked into B&N and some lady tried to sell me a “Nook.”  It took me a moment to process what she said, but then I fired back with, “Yeah, right,” and laughed like a bastard.  Nooks don’t make you look smart, they make you look like someone who goes to a book store to buy coffee.  I got the newest John Irving book and a couple of others.  I can already feel my vocabulary testing the limits of my keyboard.

Oh, and can we start pricing books by the page?  I wanted to get this novel, “5 Days Apart,” but it wasn’t 300 pages and was $25.  Come on. Ten Cents a page?  What is this, Staples?  So now I have to keep the title of this book in my head until it comes out in paperback.  Tall order.

Get Back to Work People…

It's Hotter Than Something Happening in a Wool Sock.

Today I found out the thermometer in the console of my car can register triple digits.  It’s a good thing to know.  The heat is staggering, and I am a man built for low dew-points, so in the coming week I may feature an acerbic tongue that can only be produced by catastrophic levels of humidity.  When I arrive back at my building the hum of all the window AC units reminds me of vuvuzelas.  Takes me back to that great American team that everyone has already forgotten about.  But, really, is there a more obsolete invention than the window AC unit?  If I was the guy who invented central air, I’d call the Thomas Edison of window units and tell him to choke on it at least once a month.  I’m serious.  I think that could be incredibly satisfying.  So, a lot was happening over the holiday weekend.  Was it?  I don’t know, I actually think this might be the time of week that we’re supposed to recap the Bachelor(ette).  We’ll see what happens…

–I think my favorite story of the weekend was that Jamarcus Russell got arrested for possession of the sizzurp.  Someone will have to do a spell check on that for me, but the fact that Russell gets arrested for this of all things (the week after Outside the Lines does a 5 yrs too late piece on it) is pretty amazing.  Is Russell unlucky?  Is he the biggest stone moron in the history of earth?  A combination of the two?  I’m pretty sure Weezy walked around drinking this for 5 years and no one blinked, but Russell gets snagged…I imagine when the Raiders cut you there is no landing spot, but it was nice of Jamarcus to go ahead and put to rest any thoughts of a comeback.  Enjoy that 36 million, which if I had to guess, is probably down into the low, low 7 digits at this point.

–Second favorite story of the weekend, Tiger shooting 79 in the first round of his Pro-Am today.  I don’t care if you fly across the ocean, and I don’t care if the course is an absolute beast, when you are “driving the ball on a string” you don’t shoot 79.  Not if you’re Tiger.  It’s just satisfying because I know Tiger has got to be approaching pathological liar status at this point, and he’s completely delusional about his own game.  Did I just guarantee he wins St. Andrews?  Maybe, but the story kind of hints that one of the amateurs in his group was hitting it better than Woods.  You know how they say ACL surgery takes a full year and half or whatever, guys aren’t really ready when they come back?  I think Tiger had the equivalent of that on his brain/ego.   He could win the British, because it’s a lay-up for him, but if he wins more than twice the rest of the year, I’d be pretty shocked.  By the way, if you want to look at some hot photos, check out this course they’re playing, Adare Manor.

–3rd story.  I can’t decide if I care about the All-Star line-ups or not.  I really change my mind every three minutes.  It’s just a reflection of the fact that baseball can’t decide what they want out of the game.  I don’t really care if Joey Votto is on the team, but then if he were to hit a pinch hit home run to give the NL home-field in the Series, I probably would care.  On the scale of 0 to Selig, I’d probably give Charlie about a 6.75 on his bungling of the National League roster.  I’d like Billy Wagner out there in the pen, and Ryan Howard probably should be at home.  Omar Infante?  A utility guy?  I don’t know, in the end it’s probably good, because if anyone can run out of players with 35-man rosters it’s Charlie.  It’s the year of the NL pitcher, but our lineup looks like a joke compared to the AL.  The AL fans did a better job voting too, the bastards.

Closing blurbs.

I wish I had an NBA correspondent.  Then I wouldn’t have to try to drum up passion to mention Amare signing with the Knicks.  I’m going to say it one more time, the Knicks having a meeting with LeBron’s people to basically ask if it is ok if they sign Amare doesn’t sit with me. It checks in at like, reason 4587 why I hate the NBA.  Plus, there’s going to be a lock out next year people, who cares?

And, for the El Cupo Worldos still out there, do we feel a little cheated by this Netherlands v Uruguay game?  This is a walkover, right?  Spain v. Germany is the epic?   Germany’s destruction of the beloved ‘Tina was quite a sight, in the end it looked a little bit like Alabama running it up on Birmingham Tech or something.  Were there quotes from Germany after the game, because I would have been all full of myself.   That was it, Argentina?  Thanks for the scrimmage.

Without Further Ado, See You in Brazil.

Remains Absent From US Trophy Case.

I’d like to formally bid adieu to El Cupo Worldo. I’m aware that we aren’t even into the quarterfinals, that there could still be some games that soccer fans crave, but I’m out. Patriotism, honest attempts at real interest, they can only go so far. I’m just not a real soccer fan. My sincerest apologies. I can watch the youtube sensation that shows country wide celebrations for the Landycakes goal and understand the sentiment, but in the end two things sink the World Cup for me: the demise of the US Team, and the complete atrocity that is soccer officiating.

Starting with our beloved home squad, I still can’t help but feel that I was a little misled. As nice as it was to win the group, the majority of the excitement the US team created was a result of them trying to make up for their own mistakes. We heard a lot about the US team’s resiliency, their tendency to score in the waning minutes, but what of their inability to find their top game from the start? Does a team that constantly puts itself in a hole, cannot finish its opportunities, and gets average performances from its stars deserve to move on?

We’ll be reminded that the US could have won the game against Ghana. Some will say they should have won, or deserved to win, but it’s tough to argue that when you witnessed the domination of the first half. The questionable lineup, the play of the US’s supposed ace in the hole, Tim Howard…it all could have added up to a much deeper deficit than 1-0. The fact that the US team suffered a similar breakdown in the opening moments of extra time seems to make the loss more appropriate than disappointing. So with the US team on its way home, I’m thinking, was that all there is?

On a more general level, the officiating in this World Cup has been the most offensive thing to me, a casual fan at best. How does a sport retain credibility when the flow of games is constantly interrupted by atrocious calls? We often hear of how good officials are, how few calls they actually miss, and I generally believe this, but not in the case of this World Cup. In a sport where scoring happens only so often, it would seem that calls on scoring plays should be made correctly, and yet time and again, they are botched. And botched with flair.

Both games Sunday featured dumbfounding blown calls, one put a goal on the board, the other taking one off. They robbed England of a clean slate, and put Mexico in a hole. I believe the better teams likely prevailed, and easily, in both cases, but how can we know for sure? Personally, I’m rooting for poor officiating to continue. I want a big fat black eye on the Final.

The argument against replay from FIFA is that the game must be the same at all levels, in all locations. Some countries, some venues wouldn’t have the budget or the technology in place for video replay, etc. While this makes sense in maybe the most literal of worlds, not protecting the integrity of the results in the sport’s biggest stage seems to bring pointless criticism. And when the whole stadium is watching replays of blown calls, don’t we have to look around and say, this could be fixed in 8 seconds, no?

So aside from watching a highlight here and there, and hoping Maradona rushes the field in his suit and hand balls one in a for game winner (no one saw it), I’m going to say farewell soccer. Thanks for the blip. See you in Brazil. If we qualify.

So….Ghana.

So, They've Got the Body Painting Down to a Science. How's Their Soccer?

Not much of an NBA Draft, was it? Pretty true to form? I really feel a bit sorry for the 2nd rounders. In any other sport 2nd round is a nice effort, probably a payday. In the NBA we’re losing excitement at the seventh pick, let alone 49. No guaranteed money, nothing. With Evan Turner aboard we can go back to ignoring basketball and focus on more global games, like cricket or soccer.

Big swelling of National pride coming on Saturday. Huge.  Everyone but the Donovan haters went from apathy to watching Victory on loop after the US got the late game winner against Algeria. It sent them into the elimination round, and as a group winner…well looky there.  The opponent is the African nation of Ghana who comes out of group D with a less than impressive resume (to this guy).  The US dodged Germany by winning the group, but can they make it count? Build any momentum?  It’s time to reevaluate expectations, I suppose.  What will come of this latest version of US Soccer, fresh off the biggest goal in the history of the nation? I thought I’d throw it out there in the morning so we could have fresh minds discussing it.

I don’t know a thing about Ghana. If someone out there wants to run down a quick scouting report, that’d actually be amazing. I assume they must have at least one good player, but for all the talk about the Ivory Coast and Cameroon, I really haven’t heard much about Ghana. They tallied two goals in 3 games, but the US wasn’t exactly lighting the lamp either (I don’t know the soccer equivalent, so I’m sticking with this cliche). I’m dancing around it a bit, but what I want to say is, we’ve got to beat Ghana, right?

It would be a damn shame to squander the momentum of earlier in the week so quickly. I mean, you want to see an entire nation tune out in a heartbeat…have the US lose on Saturday. I feel like that would be a disappointment. The expectations I had in my head before the tournament were, get through the group stage and then look at the match-up. Now I’m saying quarterfinals or bust.

Of course, if I’m being honest I think we are just delaying the inevitable tune out. The United States could win this thing and it’d all be over after the talk show circuit ended. That’s just the way it goes. The spotlight is limited, so they better enjoy it and capitalize while they have the chance, and that means beating Ghana.

Oh, and big game for the Swiss on Friday, but I’m just using them for their chocolate and bank accounts.

Brand New World Cup Open Thread!

Go Swiss.

The World Cup enters its 2nd week.  How long does this thing run, seriously I’m asking?  Match of note on Monday is clearly Switzerland vs. Chile.  The Cheeseheads will try to lock up a place in the round of 16.  I assume with their shut down defense and St. Bernard Puppy getting crunk off brandy on the sidelines, it’ll be a pushover.  So, what kind of soccer should we talk about?

How about rank the following disappointments:  France, Didier Drogba, the entire African Continent, Italy.

And, rank the following embarrassments:  France’s team unity, the referees, Kaka, and the lack of streakers.

Here’s my view from 30,000 feet (RIP Professor Steffy):  The tournament is being stone-cold dominated by South America.  Put it in the books.  Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay these teams are piling up wins while the European “powers” are being upset and the African countries aren’t gaining any home continent momentum.  Home continent just doesn’t play like it used to.   I don’t know how the brackets shake out, but it looks like we could be headed toward a South American Final, which I’d be into, I think.  I suppose the Netherlands is looking strong and Spain could bounce back, but really, the dogs have had their day in this thing so far.

Speaking of Which…

Prepare to Die, Chile.