Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why Spain Won't Win Euro 2012

As I was on the Spain bandwagon before it was even built, having picked them to win World Cup 2006, then picking them to win Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 as well, I feel obligated to get down on paper my honest thoughts that they will not win the Euros this year. Why?

1. No David Villa, their all time leading scorer. 2nd choice is Fernando Torres, a shell of his former self. Villa's clinical finishing will be missed
2. A few key players farther into their sunset years: i.e. Carles Puyol aka Slash from Guns N Roses.
3. Fatigue. The amount of matches played by the Spanish players, mainly the core Barcelona ones over the last few years is just stunning, and fatigue may affect this team more than any other.

Even with these weakesses Spain are still the best team, but if they make Spain 10% or even 5% from what they were in 2008 & 2010, then that may well be enough to get them knocked out. The margin between victory & defeat in these competitions is razor thin- remember that Spain only beat Paraguay on penalties at World Cup 2010- if the lottery of the shootout landed on the other side of the coin flip that it is, they would have been out at the quarterfinals in South Africa. For a team that specializes in 1-0 wins, a 10% dropoff may be enough to see them out.

The case for of course is the amazing collection of core talent remains, they still have the best goalkeeper in the world, and they have the experience and confidence in themselves to get it done in any situation, even if they lose their first match.

Let's also remember that if you are going to beat Spain, you pretty much have to score first to have a chance (or make it to penalties).

I still feel they will make the semifinals, but just have a hunch that they won't be able to finish it off and defend their title. I woudn't be surprised to see them not win this competition but be stronger at the World Cup 2012 (I don't think we have seen the end of Spain, just that this year might prove a bridge too far).

Of course, that is the analyst in me, not my heart. I'll still be pulling hard for them.

That said, I'm not sure who can/will beat them. Germany maybe, don't think Holland's defense can get them to the winners circle.

I do think that the surprise of the tournament will be France, who are still a laughingstock in the eyes of the world. But the team has been completely rebuilt and has quietly been very effective in the last 2 years, and I think they will surprise and make a run to the semifinals.

So lets guess a semifinals with Spain, Germany, Russia & France, and who knows from there. Sure hoping Spain get their treble, but I have a hunch someone is going to knock them out in the semifinals or final this time around.

If only we still had Paul the Octopus around to tell us what will happen. R.I.P.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good Start Barry, But You Can Do Better.

We want more of this:

SYTYCD last night. Sasha & Alexander. "Coming Home".
Powerful & amazing.

and less of this:

10 years of wasted human life. For nothing.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nooooooooooooo!!! (Shakes fist towards Athens, Georgia). Dawgs-Ducks: Dead On Arrival.

The last UGA road trip hurrah in 2015 is no more. The Georgia-Oregon series has been canceled.  I don't know who to be more pissed at, McGarity or Evans. When Evans was fired I knew Georgia @ Oregon in 2015 would be the final road trip out West, and that sucked, but we were still looking forward to it so much. I can't put into words how bummed I am. First for the end of the UGA road trips. Second that our day(or night) at Autzen just vanished into thin air(as well as for me personally a week of exploring Oregon). And third McGarity, who said last week that he preferred Florida's scheduling philosophy to ours. What does that mean? It means get ready for 3 cupcakes & Tech, with an occasional home & home with Clemson an hour up the road.

If you're going to Colorado this week, enjoy it. It will probably be the last one for a while. Georgia didn't play a road game outside the Geographic South between 1965 (@Michigan) and 2008(@ Arizona State). It may be another 43 years before we see it again...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Umm, Nevermind

FoxSportsNet RockyMountain showed the Rockies-Giants game, so I didn't get to watch, but right now that looks like a blessing.

But following along on my phone was enough to do what the first two losses could not: end my bullish optimism for this team this year. 8-4 is now a fantasy, and from where we're at tonight a return to Shreveport might be an accomplishment.

Oh well, time to to re-calibrate. 2010 is officially a rebuilding year. Nothing to do but accept it, roll with it, support the team, and hope for improvement as the year goes by.

Time to enjoy the beauty of Colorado & hope for the best while fearing the worst: back-to-back loses to Mississippi State & Colorado for a 1-4 start.

And remember- it's only a game and sports is still the toy department of life.
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For The Record

Just landed in Denver, and want to get a couple things on the record before our game today.

1. I still believe in this UGA team, and FireRicht/Sky Is Falling crowd are both crazy & overreacting.

2. We have way more talent, and are a better team on paper, than Mississippi State, Colorado, Tennessee, Vandy, & Kentucky. This team is entirely capable of winning the next 5 and rolling into the cocktail party 6-2, ranked, confident, and improving. Many of the problems are fixable, Green, Caleb King, Chapas return, both Murray and the 3-4 should improve with time, and there is no where for the O-line to go but up.

3. Beyond that, Tech is not good this year, and I have a strong suspicion that Auburn are Paper Tigers. We will be favored in every game from here on out except Florida & possibly Auburn. I wouldn't be surprised at all if this team goes 9-3, or even sorts it all out and runs the table. Yes, I said it. Not saying they will, but it is just as possible as losing 2 tough games to top 12 teams w/ equal talent to us without our best player & with a new 3-4 scheme and a freshman quarterback. All you naysayers who are guaranteeing 6-6 this year are overreacting big time.

4. The man did what what asked of him last year & fired his defensive coaches. The anti-Richt crowd said that bought him 2 years, but are so happy to judge the team at less than full strength after 3 and even 2 games. Pure madness. The time to make judgements on Georgia football 2010 is December 1st.

4. Support this team and this coaching staff until December; they have earned it & they deserve it.

That is all. Lots more positives than negatives, and massive potential & upside in this team. Wait to hate.

Go Dawgs.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Georgia 24-31 Arkansas. Instant Reaction.

- Congratulations to Arkansas. There is little doubt that over the full 60 minutes the better team won today.

- Irony alert: the thousands of fans who left as early as the third quarter are the same people who will complain about the team and question the team's effort.  Weak sauce from these fans today- your quitting on the team so early when the game was not at all out of reach was lame and shameful. From the sounds of it this was the weakest performance by our fans since the infamous Auburn home game in 1999.  Great for recruiting for potential Dawgs to see so many alleged fans quit on the team. Full credit to the team for erasing a 14 point deficit in the 4th quarter without them, and credit also to the remaining true fans who were as loud as less than a full house can be.

- Why do we even recruit tight ends, let alone great and talented tight ends, when we continually fail to utilize them? Why do we even have Orson Charles? This continues to remind me of how well Donnan utilized them; utilized them right into the NFL like an assembly line.

-For all the flack our receivers have received in recent years for dropping passes, today they made a bunch of  tough catches on balls that were thrown to them in difficult spots. Durham, White, and T. King all played great today and whereas they used to drop balls today they made difficult catches in key situations that sparked the comeback. Well played to them.

- For all the other things that are wrong and/or disappointingly bad for people to be frustrated about, there are reasonable and rational explanations for almost all of them, with one glaring exception: the offensive line is so terrible that it is truly inexplicable. This unit wasn't supposed to be good, they were supposed to be great. How great? The smartest college football analyst in history, Phil Steele, ranked Georgia's O-line as the #1 O-line in the nation. They haven't just failed to be great, they have failed to be even good or average. They are somewhere between totally average and truly terrible both in pass blocking and run blocking. They have single-handedly turned Washaun Ealey into Richard Samuel, and against 2 average pass rushes they regularly have young Aaron Murray running & scrambling for his life. This is a unit with a collective 155 starts between them coming into the season. Not inexplicable that they aren't as great as expected, but inexplicable that they are so horribly bad.

- Also, someone please work hard with Ealey on blocking. He is not helping his cause by missing key blocks that result in sacks/losses and kill drives. This is something that Caleb King is better at, and at this point he cannot return soon enough.

- Most of the talk has been about AJ Green making the difference on the field by making plays, which is of course obvious, and additionally both a fool's errand and moot. More interesting to me is not the plays on the field but how his absence has affected the morale and psyche of the team, who are clearly playing with absolutely no confidence and even seem to be sleepwalking through large portions of games. Unfortunately this happens with 18-22 year old athletes, and it seems obvious that their confidence in themselves as a collective is clearly absent. Hopefully the return of AJ for the Colorado game will be a positive jolt to the team, both on the field (obviously) and also mentally there will be a massive shift in confidence & self-belief, which as anyone who has ever played team sports will tell you, is no insignificant thing.

- Not that the coaching staff does not have questions to answer or accountability, but remember this: it is not Richt's fault that AJ Green stupidly sold his jersey for $1000 and is missing 1/3 of the season. AJ ultimately failed his responsibility to the team, and although it is not the entire reason for the poor start and each of the two losses, it has played a pretty significant part (not just the catches but opening up running game & less pressure on young QB). The Georgia fan base has thusfar looked at AJ Green as the victim of an unfair & evil NCAA, but the cold truth his that he failed in his responsibility to the team and the team is suffering because of him. He should not be vilified for it, but as a massively frustrated & disgruntled fan base runs around assigning blame to various people, he should certainly be given his fair share rather than given a free pass as an innocent victim. As absurd as the ruling is, it was put into place by the NCAA in response to University of Georgia players selling their 2002 SEC Championship rings, so there can be no way that UGA players are not aware of this rule (and if they are not then that is an inexcusable fail by the coaching staff when the rule was created because of their own players/program).

- The Dawg Nation is divided, and the Richt Must Go side certainly gained traction and new followers today. It is harder now for us in the patience & perspective camp to maintain, but I still believe that this team can be very good, and I still believe that Richt did what was what asked of him in the offseason and should not be judged on the 2010 season until December 1st. But after today it admittedly got alot harder to talk members of the other side down from the ledge.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

South Carolina 17-6 Georgia. Instant Reaction.

-Each team had 3 trips inside their opponent's 15 yard line. South Carolina came away with 2 TDs & a FG for 17 pts, Georgia settled for 2 FGs and fumbled the ball away at the SC 2 yard line for 6 points. There's your game recap in 1 sentence. As much as they dominated the stats, and as much as the spin will be that they dominated us, the truth is it came down to equal opportunities in the red zone. They converted, we didn't. Simple as that.

-After his huge fumble in Carolina's stadium, Washaun Ealey needs to watch "The Program" 100 times this week. I mean really- can you think of any worse punishment?

-After the 1st series where Ealey ran well, I can't remember another run of more than 5 yards the whole game. I thought our O line was supposed to be good this year? They sure weren't good today.

-Schematically the D seemed much better, but many of the same players still cannot tackle. Yes Lattimore is a special back, but our poor tackling made him look even better.

-AJ may have made the difference today, may not have. It's a moot point and not worth discussing, so just move on.

-As disappointing as today was, do not forget that a bad 1st game performance does not equate to a bad year. Look no further than last year's Oregon team, and take a deep breath.

-There's lots to improve on, and Murray already looks better after 1 road game than Joe Cox ever did in 5 years. There is still reason to be optimistic that we can have a good year, and I actually feel better about our chances this season at 1-1 than I did before I saw Murray play.

-Have pride. Don't be an annoying whiner. Give this team your full support; they deserve it. Go Dawgs.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

The Real Season Starts Tomorrow: Inspiration From The Ghost Of A Legend

This was emailed to me last week, and as Georgia's season really gets underway tomorrow I thought I'd share it to get the juices flowing (as if they weren't already).  It is a letter from legendary coach Erk Russell to the 1980 University Of Georgia football team delivered before the season started. Things worked out pretty well for that team; let's hope Grantham sent out a similarly inspiring text message to this year's team...

Enjoy, and GATA.

click photo to enlarge

P.S. Run!

Feel Good Friday: Holler Back

After an intense 3 week contract gig I am now properly unemployed, and as such able to write again. Pretty sweet timing with soccer starting back up this weekend and a proper slate of college football games rather than last week's appetizer plate of mismatches.

Today's Feel Good Friday is from a country band called The Lost Trailers. Why? Because I recently made the acquaintance of one of the members of this group and spent a week in his company, and 1) he is a great guy 2) he is a UGA alum and a Damn Good Dawg 3) he promised me after several beers that he would go with us to the Oregon-Georgia game in 2015. Seems good enough reasons to throw up a country song for the first time ever, no?

If this isn't your speed, there's always Fabolous.  Have a great weekend- enjoy the football and the futbol.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Champions League 2010-2011 Group Stage Draw

Here is the draw.

"The trophy with the big ears"
Inter Milan
Werder Bremen
Tottenham Hotspur
Twente Enschede

Olympique Lyon
Schalke 04
Hapoel Tel-Aviv

Manchester United

FC Copenhagen
Rubin Kazan

Bayern Munich
AS Roma
CFR Cluj

Olympique Marseille
Spartak Moscow

AC Milan
Real Madrid
Ajax Amsterdam

Shakhtar Donetsk
Partizan Belgrade

Quick thoughts:

---> Arsenal got a very good draw.

---> Barcelona got a super simple draw; their B team should be able to win this group.

---> AC Milan drew 2 seed that is really a 1 seed Real Madrid, as well as Ajax, and just like that group G is your OMG Group Of Death. Tough luck for AC Milan, tougher luck for Ajax, and toughest luck for Auxerre, the 4th team in the group.

---> Spurs got a tough draw on paper, but Inter without Mourinho and Twente without McLaren will both surely be down compared to last year, so it's not as bad as it looks. As an Arsenal fan who also digs Ajax, I'd be much happier if these two got each others draw.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spurs Did It; The Squirrel Joke Will Soon Be Dead. Champions Leage Group Stage Draw Tomorrow

Well, Spurs did it. After going down on Young Boys last week then coming back up a bit, today they slammed those very same Young Boys, hard. Their 3-nil down turned 6-3 aggregate win means that they have qualified for the Champions League proper for the first time ever.

Congratulations to them on this achievement. The downside, of course, is that in just a few weeks when the Group Stage gets underway, this great joke that made the rounds back in 2006 will be well & truly dead:

Q. What's the difference between the squirrel and Spurs?

A. The squirrel has Champions League experience.

Goodbye forever, clever instance of mocking your enemy 

The group stage draw is tomorrow at 9.00am PST and can be seen live here.

Here is a list of the 32 teams that are qualified for the group stage, as well as the breakdown by pots (seeds).  Note that Jose Mourhino's Real Madrid are in Pot 2 (it looks like Lyon knocked them out of Pot 1), which means that all of the non-Spainish Pot 1 teams will be rubbing their lucky rabbit's feet and hoping to avoid them in the draw. Here's hoping Arsenal dodge that bullet. Although the last time they had to play Real Madrid in the 2006 knockout stage they became the 1st ever English team to win in the Bernebeau thanks to this nifty little goal which was "no more, no less than they merit."

Nike Mails It In On Tebow Branding

I popped into NikeTown SF this afternoon to check out the fall soccer gear on offer (Arsenal away shirts look better in person than on TV), and on the way out I came across this:

Irony alert: these were all stitched by Buddhists, Taoists & Hindus

These thoughts all entered my mind in the two minutes it took me to get out of the store and back on the street:

1. Bo Jackson will not be pleased.

2. Surely somewhere, TEBOW CRIES and/or TEBOW BLOWS modifications of this shirt are in production, and will be available for cash purchase from entrepreneurs in all of the other NFL stadium parking lots this fall.

3. Somewhere, Gary Danielson is wearing this shirt, and only this shirt, and touching himself alone in the dark while watching CBS Gator game reruns and blasting "Pictures Of You" by The Cure on his stereo.

4. Someone in the creative department at Nike mailed it in on this one. Re-hash a 20 year old campaign for a star athlete that was miles different from this one instead of coming up with a creative new branding. On the other hand, they were done in 5 minutes and able to take a long lunch in the park, instead of grinding all day in the office researching and brainstorming ideas, so respect. Either way, I'm surprised executives signed off on this; it's just so lazy and out of place- the two people being compared are so different a) football wise b) personality wise 3) public perception wise, that the theme falls on it's face from jump. It's like big tobacco casting Tim Gunn as the new Marlboro Man.

5. Nike really should have played up the Football Jesus angle with this. Perhaps the shirt should say TEBOW KNOWS (A PRIORI)

6. This is really an opportunity for the Mormons to counter. They should get Adidas on the phone, pronto, and get a MAX HALL KNOWS MORE shirt into production ASAP.

7. Florida, the UF diaspora, the Bible Belt, and Colorado Springs have their work cut out to buy enough of these to keep this as a viable national brand for Nike, because it's hard to see them moving alot of product anywhere else. Denver maybe, if he heals Knowshon's hamstring by waving his hand over it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Warning To Bloggers: Philadelphia Hates You.
Will Other Cities & States Follow?

This caught my eye and may one day be the future for all of us...

Philadelphia is requiring bloggers who have received any revenue at all from their writing to obtain a business license from the city for $300, and then pay taxes on any profits made as well. One blogger earned $11 in two years; another $50.

Photo courtesy of OC Register,
unless they lifted it from someone else

While many bloggers are caught up in the net neutrality debate taking shape in front of our eyes, if this catches on it may be the next big thing in a few years. I don't know how many blogs are currently active in America, but wiki says there are at least 112 million (I assume worldwide).

I understand that cities, counties, and states are all swimming in debt, and will leave no stone unturned in an attempt to increase revenue. Hell, California is about to legalize marijuana, mainly for the tax revenue.  Surely the logical thing is to place a minimum threshold, say $1000 a year in revenue, for the business license requirement. Although enforcement would be tricky, and even at $1000 a year that is a 30% tax, which is excessive.

If this grows, it will be interesting to watch, as it will become a political issue, with Republicans railing against any taxation of small business & saying services should be cut and Democrats saying revenue should be increased to pay for services rather than cutting them. Same old tired story, but it will be interesting to watch, as it would also dovetail with the whole net neutrality debate currently raging. Add to that the sheer absurdity of it, which is right up there with the Reagan administration attempting to label ketchup a vegetable, and we could be in for some fun. I could see it becoming a red state/blue state thing: if you live in Georgia, I cannot see you ever having to deal with this, but I could totally see California trying it.

I look forward to watching Orson Swindle's interview on Hardball With Chris Matthews sometime in 2012, where he is in split screen with Arianna Huffington. Maybe that will be the trigger for the Mayan apocalypse.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We've Got 5 Super Bowls Bitch

I went to my first 49ers game today with and courtesy of my friend Dana Dane, who hooked us up with free tickets and a parking pass. The sun was out for a change and it was very nice:

The view from section 15

I won't bore you with my impressions of Candlestick, I'll just cut to the chase.

This is by far the greatest thing we saw all day, and possibly ever at a football game... 

Don't attempt a retort; there isn't one.

...and that is before you consider that 8 year olds are wearing them.

Not only that- as Dana Dane pointed out, the shirts did not look new, which means they probably got them when they were 6.

Even better, they weren't just standing there for our amusement; they were *hustlin'* Rick Ross style. They had boxes of candy bars that kids have to sell for school or sports team or Boy Scouts or whatever, and they set up shop just outside the gate. As people streamed out of the gate, they shouted "Candy dollar! If you buy a candy bar we'll breakdance for you!!!"

The cherry on top of this sundae is that when I got home I googled both the T-shirt and the phrase, and it quickly became clear that you cannot buy these shirts anywhere- they are CUSTOM.


It's Never As Bad As You Think, Dawgs.
Tech Always Offers Perspective.

As mind-bogglingly embarrassing as our now infamous orientation video is, we can always always always count on Georgia Tech to offer us a breath of fresh air perspective.

Or in this case, a hurricane of "it's not so bad".

Click here to see what went down at Georgia Tech's orientation this year.

See, don't you feel better now?

I Was Unemployed For 22 Hours.
Suck On That, Brett Favre.

I left my job for the last time last Thursday at 6pm, and by 4pm Friday I had signed a 3 week contract for a new gig. As such my transition to unemployed blogger will have to wait until September 3rd, so don't expect much if any content before then, as 60+ hour weeks are the norm at this gig and free time is non-existent.

There's always the twitter feed over on the right; otherwise you'll just have to make do with the 9,000 blogs out there that are clearly superior to this one.

See you just before college football season.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why Dustin Johnson Is The Pick To Win The PGA

Saturday night after the 3rd round of the US Open at Pebble Beach a few months ago, Dustin Johnson held a 3 shot lead, and literally all of the buzz and media coverage was focused on him as well as Tiger Woods, who himself had an amazing round to put himself back in contention.

I was talking with a friend that night and we mentioned that the player to watch out for on Sunday would be Graeme McDowell, because he was also playing great, he was in 2nd place, he had 5 wins on the European Tour and 5 top 20 finishes in majors, and he had the added benefit of being off the radar thanks to the frenzy surrounding Johnson's 3 round dominance and Woods' possible return to greatness. With much less pressure and distraction from the spotlight, it is often these players who are just off the lead, playing well, and just off the radar that are most dangerous in the final round, as it is often easier to focus and execute with less attention & the pressure that comes along with it.

Here we are on Saturday night before the final round of the year's final major, and lo and behold Nick Watney has come out of nowhere to lead the PGA Championship by 3 shots over, you guessed it, Dustin Johnson.  All of the pressure tonight and tomorrow is on Nick Watney, it is his championship to lose, which is exactly where Johnson was at the US Open. But this time around it is Johnson in the McDowell role- playing very well and just under the radar.

Leaderboard courtesy of

Of course, this one factor alone does not make him a good pick to win tomorrow, as there are several players with a chance to win if Watney does not shoot a good round and run away with it himself. But a second dynamic often seen in major championship golf also points to Johnson tomorrow: players who win their first major are often ones who have come close before but failed, and having been in that pressure packed position and learned form it, they then break through in subsequent majors. This is a long-established pattern in golf, which bodes well for Johnson. However, it has its exceptions, like any well-established patterns. Louis Ooshtuizen (British 2010), Lucas Glover (2009 US Open), Ben Curtis (British 2003), Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA), and Rich Beem (2002 PGA) all came out of nowhere and grabbed the brass ring at first asking. On the other end of the spectrum, Phil Mickelson famously came close literally a dozen or so times before winning his first major.

As such, there is no guarantee that Nick Watney (or unknown Chinese golfer Wenchong Liang) won't win the PGA tomorrow in their first visit to the Sunday at a major pressure cooker. After all, Watney finished 7th at the Masters this year and tied for 7th at the British Open, so he has been close but not yet dealt with the pressure of having the lead of a major, or even a great chance to win, when he steps onto the 1st teebox on Sunday.  It is more likely that someone who has been there before and/or is lurking just off the radar will win: I'm picking Dustin Johnson because in this regard he is a dual qualifier.

Other likely candidates if Watney succumbs to the pressure like so many before him have in similar situations:

*Rory McIlroy would be my pick on pure talent, but the only reason I'm picking Johnson over him is that I have a hunch that Johnson will reverse the curse of having the lead and blowing it at the US Open. McIlroy hasn't had the lead, but he did finish tied for third at the 2009 PGA as well as this year's British Open. Make no mistake- he is talented enough to break through and win this tournament and be the next big thing in golf- he has been that good for a while and it seems inevitable that he will make this breakthrough, it's just a matter of when. If Johnson doesn't win tomorrow I think he will.

*Wenchong Liang has the ultimate under the radar mojo going on, as no one knows who he is, even after his course record 8-under 64 today to put him in a tie for 4th place. However, I think it'll be a stretch for him to stand up to the pressure tomorrow- he doesn't have the pedigree of last year's winner Y.E. Yang, who famously slayed Tiger but had been in contention and won big tournaments before but was still off the radar of the mainstream golf world.

*Jason Day- same as Liang

*Martin Kaymar- Although he did finish tied for 6th at the PGA last year, he was never really in contention and for me is still in the same group as Day & Liang above

*Jim Furyk, Steve Elkington, Zach Johnson are all major champions who have been here before and know how to win. They would all need Watney to stumble to have a chance, but if he does all three have the experience to pull this off.

Hard to see anyone at 7-under or lower winning unless Watney completely falls apart and something special happens for one of them to leapfrog all 10 golfers in front of them.

The final round is on CBS from 11am - 4pm, with the final group schedules to tee off at 11.35am PST. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

NY Red Bulls 0-1 LA Galaxy Instant Analysis

NY Red Bulls 0-1 LA Galaxy

Was this the most anticipated game in MLS history? Not sure if that is the right way to phrase it, but between LA being in 1st place in the West, NY in 2nd place in the East, Thierry Henry, Juan Pablo Angel, the NY debut of Rafa Marquez, Landon Donovan, MLS leading scorer Edson Buddle, Beckham looking on, Kobe Bryant in attendance, and being played at a great new soccer only stadium with a big crowd, this is the 1st MLS game that I have ever actually wanted to watch. No offense to prior MLS Cups or All-Star games, but this may have been the first 'event' or 'spectacle' in MLS history. Of course 3 years ago 66,000 people watched the epic Red Bulls 5-4 win over LA in Giants Stadium, and 47,000 people watched the 2008 2-2 draw, so this didn't grow out of nothing, but those matches had none of the above except Beckham & Donovan; the additional big names gave this game a greater sense of anticipated spectacle than any MLS game that I can remember.

The irony is that although the game wasn't poor, it did not live up to the 2 aforementioned prior incarnations of this bi-coastal rivalry. Both teams hit the crossbar, and each team carved out a few good scoring chances, but at the end of the day, from a technical perspective, this was a run of the mill MLS game. Still, the names and the spectacle of it are very good for the short & long term growth of soccer in the US.

A few other random observations:

*As good as Thierry Henry & Juan Pablo Angel are, and as good an addition as Rafa Marquez was to come in and play defensive midfielder in front of their pretty good defense, New York looks like a team missing 1 piece. Namely, a creative attacking midfielder that can link between Marquez and the best striking tandem on paper in the history of the league, and give great service to the two forwards. With the MLS transfer window (trading deadline) ending tonight at midnight, don't expect this last piece of the puzzle to be put in place this year. As such, I wouldn't go so far as saying that NY are a cinch to win the East and make it to the MLS final and have a great chance to win the title, but I think that if they address this one seemingly missing piece in the offseason, they would be the massive favorites next year. Even without this they still should make a great run and go far, but I'm not sure they can win it all without better linking play in central midfield.  That said, adding the best soccer stadium in the United States, Thierry Henry, and Rafa Marquez- that's 3 pretty damn good puzzle pieces this year, and show that current management has the ambition to finally make the NY MLS franchise into the power that it should be.

* In Juninho, La Galaxy have the exact player that I just described as lacking for New York. I'd never seen him before, and when I saw Juninho on the starting lineup my first thought was that LA had signed Mr. 50/50 (comment #6), then I realized it is a new Juninho who is just a young kid. Great vision & passing, and looks to be a player that could really blossom into something special. I've only seen him once but he seems like a bit of a coup for LA to have signed him from Brasil; he seems talented enough that his logical move would have been to Europe.  He's definitely one to watch.

* The new Red Bulls stadium is sweet, and the acoustics are very good, which surely was part of the design. From the camera shots it wasn't quite a sellout but a very good crowd, and it was the 1st MLS game I've watched where enough people were singing loudly that you could easily make out the chants and the words to the chants. Made for much better viewing experience that say a San Jose game, which are played in the Santa Clara University stadium and have a very MLS circa 1997 feel. This is also very good for the league and for US Soccer. A proper big league game atmosphere for a league still climbing the long mountain road to big league status.

*One such easily discernible chant in the first half was NY fans mocking LA's goalie to the tune of La Donna E Mobile: "Ricketts likes little boys, Ricketts likes little boys, Ricketts likes little boys, Ricketts likes little boys..." Not to condone this song, because it's as stupid as the Arsene Wenger pedophile song, but it made me realize that New York & Philly soccer fans will obviously be the first US fans to fully realize the potential of en masse juvenile vitriol soccer songs.Here's hoping that cleverness trumps stupidity going forward.

*From here on out MLS executives will surely be rooting for a NY-LA final, as this would be best for the league in terms of visibility, spectacle, television ratings, and advertising revenue. Reminds me of how the NBA & ABC/ESPN executives always root for a Celtics-Lakers final, or how baseball powers always root for a Yankees-Red Sox ALCS.

*I admittedly don't watch alot of MLS week in and week out; I see highlights on Fox Soccer Report and will watch 10-15 minutes of a game here and there if it catches my interest when I am channel surfing. So if you are hardcore US Soccer/MLS person and you read this and look down your nose at me as a surface level simpleton, then I plead guilty as charged.

Friday, August 13, 2010

3 Things To Watch For As EPL Starts This Weekend

1. The World Cup Fatigue Factor
Watch for players on teams who played in the World Cup, especially on teams who made a deep run. In most cases these players were given extra time off before reporting to training camp with their clubs, and as such they are both not quite back to being ready for their team and trying to work through and shake off the physical & mental fatigue from the World Cup. For some players, they will not have had more than a month off since June 2009, and it typically manifests itself in two ways: First, such players are brought back into the club fold slowly and/or they start the season slowly. Second, such players often hit a wall towards the end of the season as the long haul fatigue sets in; kind of a long term bonk from playing virtually non-stop over a 22 month span, especially for players who play on teams that make deep runs in multiple competitions (league & cups).

Don't be surprised if, say, Arjen Robben has a less monsterous year than last: playing in and winning both German league and Cup, and losing in Champions League final and World Cup final, he is an example of a player who may yield to fatigue early and/or late in the season.

Two of Arsenal's best players seem to fit in the category, but Arsenal are lucky that upon further review they do and they don't: Robin Van Persie was out injured for several months last year, and Cesc Fabregas was injured for 2 months as well, and on top of that his World Cup playing time was extremely limited. These guys, once they get back into camp and get fully ramped up, should have a better chance of fighting off  the long term fatigue than some others.

2. Players Who Missed World Cup And Are Both Fresh And Motivated
The opposite of fatigued, overused players are those who are well rested because they missed the World Cup, and are also pissed that they missed the World Cup and are super motivated and chomping at the bit to get back out on the field and do their thing. Russian captain Andrei Arshavin may be the best player in the world who did not make the World Cup; he is rested, motivated, more than a bit crazy, and definitely a player whose performances vary based on effort & desire- don't be surprised if he has a big season after a quiet one last year.

Hoping for more performances like this from the "little Russian genius" in 2010-11, starting with this Sunday at Anfield
Same thing for the likes of Michael Essien (returning from injury), Michael Ballack (ditto), Samir Nasri (who has been a beast in Arsenal pre-season games), Theo Walcott, Esteban Cambiasso, Alexandre Pato, and Karim Benzema just to name a few.

3. Don't Get Too Excited Early On
The beginning of the season is always stop/start with the interruption of the fall international matches- 3 games then a break, 4 games then a break, etc, etc. Also, many years teams start out the season in unexpected fashion, most often a promoted team or perennial bottom dweller getting off to a hot start and being in the top 5 of the table. But don't get too excited and start talking trash or believing that they can carry their early form through the full 38 game season. The underdog overachievers typically fall back to earth for 2 reasons: lack of squad depth/quality vis a vis the bigger better teams which over the long haul triggers a regression to the mean, and in the case of promoted teams, it taking a while for the other teams to learn their new opponent and then how to beat that opponent (think of a pitcher who gets called up to MLB and does great the first time he faces teams, but then struggles the 2nd, 3rd, 4th time he plays teams as scouting and adjustments kick in). Less frequent but still applicable is the opposite- when a big club struggles and find themselves firmly in the bottom half of the table after a handful of games. In both cases, usually by the second half of the season they have worked their way back to where most expected they would be, with the big boys back at the top and the heart warming minnows fighting to avoid relegation.

A good measure is not to get too excited or make too many conclusions about teams until 10 league games have been played. Then start talking trash or thinking 'uh, oh' this could really be an outlier/anomaly year (Liverpool 2009-2010). Until 10 games have been played don't believe the "What's Wrong With ManU?" or "Blackpool Will Challenge For A Place In Europe!!!" stories in mid-September.

Here is the TV schedule for this weekend's games. Enjoy.
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Feel Good Friday: Off I Go

Apologies for the radio silence; this week was beyond busy. I quit my job, and yesterday was my last day. Nope, I don't have another job lined up; work had just deteriorated to the point that I would rather be unemployed than continue to work there. After a couple weeks of detoxing I'll explore my options and begin the next hustle.

What does this mean for this place? It may mean more content and more often, since starting today my primary occupation is now: BLOGGER, but no guarantees. I'm hoping that starting next week I can actually put up content every day and get more than 10% of my ideas published.

In the spirit of setting off on new journeys, today's Feel Good Friday is "Off I Go" by Greg Laswell. Pretty much sums up where I'm at right now.  Enjoy, and have a great weekend.

Loose ends, they tangle down
And then take flight
But never tie me down
Never tie me down.

Off I go.

Where I fall
Is where I land.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

3-0 Down, 6-5 Up: Why Arsenal Need Another CB & A Proper Keeper

Here's the Arsenal 6-5 Legia Warsaw goal-fest yesterday (while it lasts) in the battle of bad defenses & worse goalkeepers.

Legia Warsaw-Arsenal: our goals go to 11.

--> Why Fabianski was playing (and why he won't be any longer).

--> Intentional or not, Wenger's reaction to Fabianski's latest schoolboy howler (2nd goal) is pretty hilarious.

--> It'll be fun & new & weird to see headed Arsenal goals this year (Chamakh).

--> Without a quality keeper and another quality centreback, Arsenal will score tons of goals this year, concede tons of goal this year, and finish 3rd or 4th.

--> With a proper keeper and another quality centreback, this team *could* win the league. Not that they will, but they could. Without them, they simply cannot.

--> Either way, they'll be super fun to watch for neutrals.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Denver Post Sensationally Claim Georgia Fans Hacked Colorado's Ticketing System

I'm pretty sure that "hacked" and "fraudulent" don't quite mean what the Denver Post thinks they mean. If the side door to your place of business is wide open and someone a paying customer walks in, that does not make it breaking & entering simply because you did not want them to use that door(and failed to either post notice or secure the door).

Colorado is starting to learn what Arizona State learned 2 years ago: we're coming, in big numbers, and we are getting tickets to your game by any means possible. Embrace it or resist it, but that's what's happening.

Feel Good Friday: Planet Earth For Stoners

I was recently hipped to dub artist Liquid Stranger, who I must say is a pretty damn great if you're into dub/chill/downtempo music. One of my early favorites is Deep Down Below, both for the tune and the incredibly trippy and mesmerizing underwater video.

Planet Earth for stoners

I'm not a stoner, but damn watching this sober makes even me feel like buying and smoking an entire quarter sack, putting this video on repeat on the 50" plasma, sitting on the couch, and watching it for 6 hours straight.

Anyhow, enjoy, and have a great weekend.

What Is The Opposite Of Breaking News?

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is officially staying at Arsenal.

Of course he was never leaving, as was made abundantly clear back on June 2nd. But that doesn't sell papers, generate web hits, or help you try to win a club presidential election all summer during the offseason now, does it?

I've always liked Barcelona. A lot. I watch most of their games, I've been to Camp Nou to see them play, and it might not be false to say they are my 2nd favorite team. That said, I lost alot of respect for their management and some of their players this spring & summer with their overt tapping up and failure to get through their heads that Arsenal were not selling or negotiating Cesc. They arrogantly thought they could get him without paying anything near market value, when 1) they didn't have the money and 2) he wasn't even for sale. The alleged ivory purity of "Mes que un club" took a bit of a hit, that's for sure.

Champions League Playoff Round Set

The draw took place this morning and the teams are set for the Champions League playoff round, or rather the play-in round.

These teams will play a home & home two-legged playoff, with the winner advancing to the Champions League proper, aka the Group Stage, where 32 teams will be split into 8 groups of 4 and play round robin home & away with the top 2 advancing to the Knockout Stage in the spring, culminating in the final at Wembley in London in May 28, 2011.

Here's the draw:

Salzburg (Austria) v Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)
Rosenborg Trondheim (Norway) v FC Copenhagen (Denmark)
Basel (Switzerland) v Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova)
Sparta Prague (Czech Republic) v Zilina (Slovakia)
Partizan Belgrade (Serbia) v Anderlecht (Belgium)
Young Boys (Switzerland) v Tottenham Hotspur (England)*
Braga (Portugal) v Sevilla (Spain)
Werder Bremen (Germany) v Sampdoria (Italy)
Zenit St Petersburg (Russia) v Auxerre (France)
Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine) v Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Matches will be played August 17/18 and August 24/25, and the Champions League Group Stage draw will be made on Friday, August 26.

*Too many jokes about Spurs and Young Boys. Too easy. Refraining. Insert your own as needed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

University Of Georgia AV Chickens Come Home to Roost

In 1998 Virginia Tech was 5-0 and thinking National Championship when they inexplicably lost at home to Temple as 35 point favorites after leading 17-0 at the half. Afterwards Va Tech defensive end Corey Moore famously said, "we're the laughingstock of college football right now, and deservedly so."

Well today it is us Georgia Bulldogs who are the deserved laughingstock. Damn. Just, damn.

1. This is what happens when your allegedly great school turns out Junior High School AV Club quality 30 second commercials that are played during NCAA football games year after year after year. Clearly a case of chickens coming home to roost.

2. Holy shit, perhaps I was a bit off in my analysis of The Princeton Review on-site reviewers. What if they named UGA the #1 party school based on this video?

3. It just got a hell of a lot harder to ever make fun of Georgia Tech. Granted, they massively outweigh us in the quantity department, but in the quality department this is up there with anything they have done, if not worse.

4. These orientation leaders make my orientation leaders from summer of 1992 look like the Hells Angels. I'm just glad these were not my orientation leaders back then, or I may well have immediately withdrawn and gone to another school.

This makes the cast of "Glee" look like Genghis Khan & his army

Let's be clear: this is NOT International Bad Line stuff. This is a boat that sinks just west of the 180 degree latitude marker and will rest there for all eternity- as bad as bad can get without becoming IBL bad--->good.

Anyone embarrassed by the recent #1 party school in America designation needs to seriously check themselves- this is the most embarrassing thing to happen to UGA since the Jan Kemp affair.

(h/t to Orson Swindle for bringing this to my attention)

Monday, August 2, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Bobby Johnson's Last Day At Vanderbilt

I know this is a little old, but I've been fully immersed in the World Cup, totally off the grid, or extremely sick for the last six weeks. As such I missed out on the unexpected retirement of beloved Vanderbilt Commodore head coach Navin R. Bobby Johnson a couple of weeks ago.

image courtesy of

Per his Wikipedia page:


On July 14, 2010, Johnson announced his retirement from coaching.[5] Citing it as a "personal decision", the decision was a surprise to the program and the media as it occurred less than two months away from the 2010-11 season. In explaining his decision, he stated: "Football is not life, but it's a way of life and it consumes your life. You only have so many years to live, and you want to see a different way."

I'm so sad to see him go, but at the same time I totally respect his perspective and attitude: very refreshing in a field where most men never leave a life where they are chewed up & spit out over and over again, and where the stress of the job often matches or even exceeds the great pay.

Well I can exclusively share with you video footage that was sent to me showing Coach Johnson's final day in the office, where he explains that he simply doesn't need all the stuff that became part of his coaching life anymore; all he needs is to simplify his life to be more spiritually whole and happy. Enjoy.

The only good thing about his departure, for Vandy players & staff anyways, is they can once again curse to their hearts content without having to put a dollar bill in a jar for each potty-mouthed offense. Best of luck coach Johnson; you are loved and will be missed.

Princeton Review Crowns UGA Party Champions. Don't Be Fooled; They Likely Have More Street Cred Than Playboy

So UGA finally broke through to become the #1 party school in America, a ranking almost as subjective as the BCS. Surely the difference between the #1 party school in America and the #30 party school in America is pretty damn small; hell any of the top 50 or 100 could likely be re-arranged in any manner by a random number generator and no-one could really argue with it. These rankings seem kind of like the special olympics ribbon or the "My child is student of the month at Kennedy Elementary" bumper stickers- everybody gets one eventually if you are a regular participator who does fairly well.

Party school rankings: kind of like this

But forget all that, because the whole thing is rather boring and meaningless. What did interest me is that this is the Princeton Review Party School ranking, which got me thinking:

1. "Wait, someone else ranks this besides Playboy magazine?"

2. "WTF is THE PRINCETON REVIEW doing ranking epic partying? Isn't that like PETA ranking the best dog tracks in America?"

3. "I bet Princeton Review and Playboy use different methodologies to determine their top party schools..."

#3 initially made me think that UGA had just won the equivalent of the NIT basketball championship or the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, but then I had a realization:

I bet the Princeton Review on-site reviewers are much more hardcore than the Playboy ones. Follow me...

The entire ethos of Playboy is party all the time & inhibition, so for the Playboy on-site reviewers this is all day, every day. Fun but more of the same: drunkenness, nakedness, hijinks, etc. Yawn. Pass the butter.

However, if you work at the Princeton Review, then there is only one chance in the entire span of your employment there to escape the stuffy boredom of academia, and that is if you are selected to be an annual party school ranking on-site reviewer. Give these people an expense account and a 'what happens after dark stays a secret' mentality, then send them into the bellies of the largest collegiate bacchanalia beasts in the country, and something tells me that they binge on sex, drugs, and rock & roll like it's their last week on Earth, and in such a manner that would put even the Playboy reviewers to shame. Think of the "one time, at band camp..." girl but on a much larger scale.

So if you are disappointed that UGA has only achieved the party school championship as determined by boring nerds, turn that frown upside down: this ranking may well hold more weight & insane party cred than the one by vanilla Playboy. Boast to your friends or cringe as necessary.

Also, if someone wanted to make a poll that was actually interesting, they should make one that is 50% party (party school ranking) and 50% academic quality (average SAT score, Rhodes, etc) and do a combination. Neither the academic rankings nor the party rankings are very interesting, but the hybrid one showing which schools party the most yet are still academically legitimate would be a very interesting one, and a poll that would generate much more respect from people. It would be much better to boast about partying down while also taking care of business in the classroom than just partying down or being academically superior.

This could actually be done by anyone with enough free time (read: not me), and I suspect that UGA would fare pretty well, top 20 or maybe even top 10, but the winner might be a school like Michigan.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Feel Good Friday: Crowded House Reggae Remix

For reasons I cannot clearly or concisely explain, this reggae remix of Crowded House's 80s hit "Don't Dream It's Over" was randomly happened across today by my coworker and became a massive and long-lasting hit in the office.

"Hey mon, heeeeey mon, don't dream it's over..."

Reminds me of driving around in Hawaii, as damn near every channel plays reggae or lite rock hits from yesteryear remixed as reggae. There are certainly worse things to me reminded of by a song that cruising down the road in Hawaii with the top down, your sweetie by your side, and a coconut water in your hand.

Anyhow, there it is. I think this song actually crosses the International Bad Line: it is so bad, that it actually rules. Have a great weekend.

El Diego Goes Gentle Into That Good Night

Diego Maradona was not retained as manager of Argentina's national football team this week, so when he called a presser (at the Ezeiza Holiday Inn of all places), I was looking forward to a truly epic parting shot. After all, this is the man who, among other things, told all of his doubters in Argentina to "Suck it. And keep on sucking" when Argentina qualified for World Cup 2010, and who then ran over a cameraman's leg and then told said cameraman he was an asshole for putting his leg under El Diego's car.

So when he calmly read a prepared statement where he said that the men who run Argentine football lied to him and betrayed him, then calmly left without taking questions, you can imagine my disappointment. Admittedly the bar has been set ridiculously high, but this was going out with a whimper for the one and only El Diego.

His legacy and tenure will be debated for years to come, but for me his legacy will be that at age 49 he still seemed like one of the first people in the world to learn how to bend the infamous Jabulani ball, and perhaps even gave the cheat code to the players at the World Cup who were clearly baffled by it in the first week of the competition.

49 year old shows the young bucks how Jabulani is tamed

One thing is for sure: the international soccer scene just got a hell of a lot less interesting and fun. Long live El Diego the insane genius manager.

Colorado Ticket Update, Current Options, Analysis

One way or another, I'll be up in here on Oct 2.
(photo courtesy of


I called the Colorado ticket office today and confirmed a few things that will be of interest to any Dawgs going to Boulder in 9 weeks time:

1. Single game tickets do indeed go on sale August 2

2. CU has reversed course and now single game tickets will *not* be made available to the Georgia game (annoying considering how reasonably priced they were going to be)

3. Group ticket sales will *not* be available for the Georgia game

4. The only way to purchase a CU-UGA ticket from the CU athletic department is by ordering a full season ticket or a "3PACK"

What is a 3PACK?

While not advertised in any way on their website, the CU ticket office is offering a 'promotion' called the 3PACK, which will allow anyone to purchase a ticket to 3 games: Hawaii, Georgia, and Kansas State. Endzone 3PACK tickets start at $130 and go up (considerably) from there. To view and/or purchase these tickets, go to this page and enter 3PACK in the promotional code field, and then click on "National Championship Pack"

Here are the currently known ways to get CU-UGA tickets:

1. UGA Athletic Department. The cutoff score was 38,500, which means two things: 1) Colorado didn't give UGA that many tickets and b) only those whose lifetime UGA contributor status is "baller" will be getting tickets from UGA. If you are not one of them, or don't know one of them, I am guessing that more than a few people bought them who are not going, and that there will be a small secondary market for these on the UGA message boards.

2. Colorado Athletic Department 3PACK(Hawaii, Georgia, Kansas State). End zone tickets are $130, while "best available" are currently sideline tickets that run $291 each

3. Their page for Colorado-Georgia currently shows tickets ranging from $106 to $495

4. Bring Cash to Boulder. Below is a seating chart for Colorado home games at Folsom Field. The red sections (2, 3, 101, 102) are labeled "visitors", so this is what CU has given to UGA and where the bulk of UGA fans as well as the band will be sitting. Use this knowledge accordingly in your ticket acquisition hustle.

Additionally, CU has a sweet interactive seating chart which shows you what your view of the game will be (just click on any section of the map to see your view). This is very helpful; spend a few minutes looking at different places around the stadium, which should then inform your seat desirability/willingness to pay matrix as you work on getting your tickets.

The 3PACK is pretty overpriced, and should be used only by people with a conservative bent towards the 'secondary' ticket market or those in groups greater than 4 who place sitting together with their friends as a higher priority than cost. In my humble opinion the Hawaii and Kansas State games are very weak and don't have much if any resale value

StubHub is similarly overpriced, although this is almost always the case this far out from a game. Worth bookmarking the page and checking back between now and the game. At current prices for endzone seats ($125 plus stubhub fees), it would be smarter to just get the 3 pack for $130 and then hope to get a little of your money back on the others by selling them at a massive discount on Craigslist or team message/ticket boards.

I think in this case option 4 may well be the best bet, and waiting and playing chicken is probably the way to go at the moment. Worst case scenario is that it is indeed a hot ticket and you end up paying $100-150 per ticket in Boulder the day of the game or day before, but even if you do that is equal to the current options for crappy seats, and I think the odds of this scenario coming to pass are less than 20%.

Frankly, Colorado have been a poor team the past few years and there is no reason to believe that they won't be poor again this year. They have 3 games before we arrive in Boulder: v. Colorado State, @ Cal, v. Hawaii. On paper they beat Hawaii and lose at Cal, and 2 of the last 4 years they have lost to in-state rival Colorado State, so they may well be 2-1 or even 1-2 come October 2. Either of these scenarios should ease the ticket market, especially if they are 1-2: after the crap seasons they've had recently, there's a decent chance their fans will already start to give up on the season and the ticket prices will drop considerably. If you went to Arizona State in 2008 then you know how a hot ticket can lose literally all of its value- an unexpected ASU home loss to UNLV made our extras *literally* worthless. I understand that CU fans are far less fairweather than ASU fans, but you get my point.

Additionally, there is no reason to assume that Georgia will roll into Boulder undefeated at 4-0 and/or even ranked, especially with a freshman quarterback and the fact that we were pretty crap ourselves last year. It is well within the realm of possibility that we lose to South Carolina or Arkansas or at Mississippi State, or more than one of those, taking further shine off the game and thus ticket demand and prices.

This makes me feel that waiting it out at least until the first 2 weeks of the season have been played is the wise move here. Anyhow, agree or not, this is the current situation and these are your options.

See you in Boulder in 9 weeks.

Our last conquest: Arizona State 2008.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Antibiotics To The Rescue

I'm just about back to the land of the living, and I can only say that sinus infections ain't no joke.

Normal service *should* resume tomorrow, although lots of life events may conspire in an attempt to prevent that from happening. However, I am confident that I can overcome these and deliver some more mediocre content to the few dozen people who come here to be entertained or waste time while at the office.

Again, apologies.