Wednesday, May 31, 2006

World Cup History Says the Winner Will Come From An Extremely Select Group

The World Cup Finals have been contested 17 times - every four years since 1930 with the exception of 1942 & 1946 which were cancelled on account of WWII.

There are currently 205 fully accredited soccer playing nations in the world, 32 of which have survived qualification for the 2006 World Cup Finals.

Of those 205 nations, only 35% have ever appeared in the World Cup Finals- 72 by my count.

Of these 72, amazingly only 11 have ever made it to the final match, and astonishingly only SEVEN countries have ever won the tournament:

Brasil. 5 time champions. 2002, 1994, 1970, 1962, 1958
Germany. 3 time champions. 1990, 1974, 1954
Italy. 3 time champions. 1982, 1938, 1934
Argentina. 2 time champions. 1986, 1978
Uruguay. 2 time champions. 1950, 1930
France. Champions, 1998
England. Champions, 1966

In addition to these seven, only Holland (twice), Czechoslovakia (twice), Sweden (once) and Hungary (once) have even made it to the final match.

I am not saying that this year's winner will definitely come from this group, only that it is remarkable that the concentration of power, if you will, involves such a select few. The World Cup makes the often talked about competitive imbalance of Major League Baseball look like the often talked about parody of the NFL.

Another little tidbit to notice as you watch this year is that the teams who have won the World Cup have a gold star on their jerseys just above the badge for each cup they have won. For example, Brasil have 5 stars, Argentina 2, England 1.

Anyhow, here is the full list of World Cup winners, finalists and host nations (click on the year for summaries, results, videos, etc):

2002. Brasil 2-0 Germany. Korea/Japan.
1998. France 3-0 Brasil. France.
1994. Brasil 0-0 Italy (3-2 penalties). United States.
1990. West Germany 1-0 Argentina. Italy.
1986. Argentina 3-2 West Germany. Mexico.
1982. Italy 3-1 West Germany. Spain.
1978. Argentina 3-1 Holland. Argentina.
1974. West Germany 2-1 Holland. West Germany.
1970. Brasil 4-1 Italy. Mexico
1966. England 4-2 West Germany. England.
1962. Brasil 3-1 Czechoslovakia. Chile.
1958. Brasil 5-2 Sweden. Sweden.
1954. West Germany 3-2 Hungary. Switzerland.
1950. Uruguay 2-1 Brasil. Brasil.
1938. Italy 4-2 Hungary. France.
1934. Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia. Italy.
1930. Uruguay 4-2 Argentina. Uruguay.

Barbaro Doing Well But Still Robert Frost, Bernardini To Skip Belmont

Barbaro continues to do very well in the 10 days since his hopefully lifesaving surgery, but he still has miles to go before he sleeps. He still has to overcome the threats of infection and/or laminitis, and it will be several months before they will even think about releasing him from the hospital. Hopefully the news on this front will continue to be good.

World's most famout patient gets
a visit from Edgar Prado

Interesting to read in that article linked above that Pimlico officials now think that Barbaro injured his foot by colliding with Brother Derek along the frontstretch. I saw Brother Derek get pulled sharply to the right by Alex Solis during the race, mainly because he was my pick so I was focusing on him. Then on the first replay I thought it looked like they might have clipped legs, but no mention of this was ever made so I just figured that I was baked. Now they seem to think that this in fact happened. If true then at least it puts to rest all of the speculation about Barbaro injuring his foot when he broke through the stall, although the exact nature of the whole thing will never be crystal clear.

In other news, Preakness winner Bernardini is skipping the Belmont to rest and take a shot at some of the midsummer races. He doesn't have much of a foundation (# of races run), so 2 grueling triple crown races in 3 weeks is a big ask for him after only racing 3 times prior to his Preakness romp. Many horsemen would take the aggressive (not to mention spotlight-laden) route and run him back in the Belmont, so it is interesting that Albertini & Sheikh Mohammed are going the conservative route. I am thinking that they are looking at things and prioritizing the season ending Breeders Cup Classic in October, so everything they do for the rest of the year will be with the purpose of preparing him for that, and they probably feel that running back in the Belmont might serve to burn the horse out a bit. As a fan it kind of sucks, but you have to respect them doing what they feel is best for the horse rather than what is best for their own egos/exposure/status/possible celebrity.

We'll have to wait until the Travers or Haskell
to see him run again

So that leaves the Belmont without much marquee power, and without the Derby or Preakness winner for only the 2nd time since 1970 (2000 was the other), and without a compelling storyline, all of which will also probably mean without high ratings as well. The Belmont, New York Racing Association, and ABC cannot be too thrilled about this, since the Belmont broke off from the other triple crown races to negotiate its own TV deal with ABC which starts this year.

So where does that leave us for the Belmont? It should still be an interesting race, with Derby 3rd and 4th place finishers Steppenwolfer and Jazil, respectively, as well as Baffert Derby flop Bob and John and 3rd place Preakness finisher Hemingway's Key, who famously ran huge in the Preakness to save his balls from being chopped off.

Sunriver: Suddenly the horse to beat?

The favorite however will probably be Sunriver, who got shut out of the Derby because he was 22nd on the graded stakes earnings list and only the top 20 get in when there is a full field. Many horsepeople thought he could have been very dangerous in the Derby, and he proved his quality by passing on the Preakness and instead winning the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont 2 weeks ago. The Peter Pan is the major prep race for the Belmont at Belmont Park. Given the loss of Barbaro, and Bernardini, Brother Derek, and others resting, Sunriver will jump up from live longshot to probably favorite. More next week as the Belmont, to be run Saturday June 10th, gets closer.

Angel Island State Park

Where I'm going: view of Alcatraz & Angel Island
(just behind it and to the left) from my street

Everyone knows about Alcatraz, but just behind it in San Francisco Bay sits the much larger Angel Island. Formerly a military installation and now a California State Park, Angel Island is basically a mountain that rises 781 feet above sea level and on a clear day offers without question the most amazing views in the entire Bay Area.

Ayala cove w/ Tiburon, Belvedere Island,
and Marin in the background

The weather in the city was great all weekend and fog season is coming soon so I decided to go out to Angel Island on Sunday for a bike & hike. This had been on my list for a long time, and although I had been out there a few years ago I only hiked to the top that day. Sunday I was excited to bring my mountain bike and explore more of the island on bike as well as on foot. The weather was as good as it gets in SF - sunny & warm, 75 degrees and a nice seabreeze.

GGB from west side of Angel Island

The island is only accessible via ferry, and instead of catching the ferry from Fisherman's Wharf I decided to drive over the Golden Gate and out to Tiburon and catch the ferry from there. After grabbing lunch from the corner store/deli, and shattering my career high for filling up my car with gas to the tune of a whopping $53 I was on my way. $3.29 a gallon is no joke for my Maxima - I can't imagine what the SUV drivers of the world are shelling out. Later I thought to myself: will I be looking back 3 years from now and fantasizing about $53 tanks of gas? Probably. Anyhow, drove over to Tiburon, parked, and made it down to the docks.

Lunch with a view

$10.25 gets you round trip ferry fare and pays your state park admission, and another $1 gets your bike on board as well. I caught the 12:00 p.m. ferry, and just had to make sure that I caught the last ferry back to Tiburon at 5:20 p.m., because if you miss this one then you are stuck on the island overnight. I set the timer on my watch and I was on my way.

Alcatraz & SF

There is a 5 mile perimeter road that winds around the outside of the island, so I started off my trip by riding around this on my bike, stopping to take pictures, eat some lunch, enjoy the stunning views, or read the signs detailing the history of the island, much of it military. After this I went off the paved road and biked up onto a fire road that circles the mountain about halfway up. At one point there is a bike rack where you can lock your bike and hike the rest of the way up to the top, but I wanted the full-on Clark Griswold experience, so I bypassed this, finished the mountain bike loop on the fire road, returned to the ferry dock, and locked my bike there. Then I began the 2.2 mile hike to the top of the mountian, where I stayed for an hour before returning down another trail just in time to catch the last ferry back.

Bay Bridge & downtown SF

The views from just about everywhere on the island are amazing, since it is located right in the middle of SF Bay, but the 360 panoramic view from the top of the mountain is absolutely stunning. It's almost too much, and like a 5 year old child at Chuck E. Cheese on a Saturday evening, the possibility of overstimulation is significant.

Standing on the summit and turning counterclockwise, you have a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Lands End, San Francisco peninsula, Alcatraz, downtown SF, the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, Oakland, Berkeley, East Bay, Mt. Diablo, San Rafael Bridge, Tiburon, Mt. Tam, Belvedere Isalnd, Sausalito, the Marin headlands, and back to the Golden Gate. You also have great views of the bay itself, and all of the various boats, from sailboats to giant cargo vessels headed to and from the Far East. It's just incredible - if you ever get the chance to go then I cannot recommend it enough. My recommendation for out of towners is if the weather is not great then go to Alcatraz, but if the weather is great then go to Angel Island instead.

Mt. Tam & Tiburon

Got back to the car before 6, drove around Belvedere Island to see how the other half 0.0001% live, then drove back to the city and out to Lands End/Cliff House to catch the sunset, which was really nice despite it being unbelieveably windy out there. A great day, and I hope to go back out to Angel Island more often than once every 3 years.

Talk about a bird's eye view

Monday was great too. The weather was beautiful again. I drove up to Sacramento and got to do three of my favorite things: play golf, eat Chick-Fil-A/drink real sweet tea, and visit with my sister and her family. Thank you Truett Cathy for being open on Memorial Day; I thought you would be closed like you are on Sundays. Lord's Day 1, Memorial Day 0 I guess. Either way, it worked out great. I hope that y'all had a great weekend as well.

Sunset from Lands End

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

I hope y'all are having a great holiday weekend.

Here are some pics of the sunset tonight from the rooftop of my building.

Pac Heights, Marina, GGB, Marin Headlands,
and SF bay from the roof

Sunset through GGB

GGB 10 minutes after sunset

GGB 20 minutes after sunset

Mt. Tam, Marin, and SF bay

Friday, May 26, 2006

Merci Robert, Et Bon Journee

Su-per, su-per Rob,
Su-per, su-per Rob,
Su-per, su-per Rob,
Su-per Robert Pires

So after 6 years Robert Pires is leaving Arsenal to sign a 2 year deal with "The Yellow Submarine" of Villarreal of the Spanish La Liga. He scored 84 goals in 284 games for Arsenal and was a very important part of Arsenal's success over the past 6 years. He was the player of the year in the EPL in Arsenal's double winning season of 2002 even though he missed the end of the season with a torn ACL. My sentiments on Pires mirror those of Arseblogger.

Sadly, his final appearance for Arsenal, in the Champions League Final, lasted only 18 minutes. He was sacrificed (had to be substituted) after Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off early in the match. He was not selected to the French World Cup team, mainly because the coach does not like him, so it was especially sad, as the Champions League Final was his World Cup Final.

Hott enough to keep your girlfriend interested

I will always remember my first match at Highbury in 2003, on my birthday no less, when after falling behind 0-1 to Fulham Pires scored the equaliser in the first half and then the game winner, in extra time, right in front of us sitting in the North Bank. It was one of the coolest birthday experiences of my life, and I remember singing his song several times with the other 38,000 at Highbury. I also must thank him for being so hottt in the eyes of my ex-girlfriend, which allowed her to watch many matches with me without getting too bored. This cannot be underestimated, especially at a time when Arsenal featured the likes of Martin Keown, Tony Adams, and several other less than GQ looking dudes.

Talented enough to keep you interested

He does have a habit of falling down rather easily, and for this reason if he played for any other team might very well be the player I love to hate. But he also got stuck in and made an amazing dispossessing tackle of none other than Patrick Vieira in the Arsenal-Juventus CL quarterfinal at Highbury, which led to Arsenal's first goal. He was also very candid and honest with the press, which is so uncommon these days and which I always appreciated.

I join everyone else in the Arsenal family in thanking him for his massive contributions to the club and also wishing him all the best in Spain.

Merci beaucoup pour tout de votre cadeaux, Robert. Et Bon Journee mon ami.

World Cup TV Schedule

We're 2 weeks away from the largest sporting event on the planet. Below is the ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 TV schedule for viewers in the United States (matches will also be on Univision). Note that the final match will be watched by over 2 billion people, which means that 1 out of every 3 human beings on planet Earth will be watching - pretty mindboggling to think about.

In addition to the schedule below, ESPN will air a daily show called "World Cup Live" after Sportscenter, "usually at 12.00 - 12.20 a.m. EST"

Be sure to give this a once over so that you can mark your mental or physical calendar for any matches that you don't want to miss, so that you don't unknowingly commit to an antiques show or distant cousin-in-laws 1st birthday party/backyard BBQ with your wife/girlfriend/significant other on the same time & date that your favorite team is playing. You have been warned. Enjoy.

(All times listed here are Pacific Standard Time)

Time. Network. Group. Match

Group Stage Match 1
Friday 9 June
9 a.m. ESPN2. A. Germany-Costa Rica
12 p.m. ESPN2. A. Poland-Ecuador

Saturday 10 June
6 a.m. ABC. B. England-Paraguay
9 a.m. ABC. B. Trinidad & Tobago-Sweden
12 p.m. ESPN2. C. Argentina-Ivory Coast

Sunday 11 June
6 a.m. ESPN2. C. Serbia & Montenegro-Holland
9 a.m. ABC. D. Mexico-Iran
12 p.m. ESPN2. D. Angola-Portugal

Monday 12 June
6 a.m. ESPN2. F. Australia-Japan
9 a.m. ESPN2. E. United States-Czech Republic
12 p.m. ESPN2. E. Italy-Ghana

Tuesday 13 June
6 a.m. ESPN2. G. South Korea-Togo
9 a.m. ESPN2. G. France-Switzerland
12 p.m. ESPN2. F. Brasil-Croatia

Wednesday 14 June
6 a.m. ESPN2. H. Spain-Ukraine.
9 a.m. ESPN2. H. Tunisia-Saudi Arabia
12 p.m. ESPN2. A. Germany-Poland

Group Stage Match 2
Thursday 15 June
6 a.m. ESPN2. A. Ecuador-Costa Rica
9 a.m. ESPN2. B. England-Trinidad & Tobago
12 p.m. ESPN. B. Sweden-Paraguay

Friday 16 June
6 a.m. ESPN2. C. Argentina-Serbia & Montenegro
9 a.m. ESPN2. C. Holland- Ivory Coast
12 p.m. ESPN. D. Mexico-Angola

Saturday 17 June
6 a.m. ESPN2. D. Portugal-Iran
9 a.m. ABC. E. Ghana-Czech Republic
12 p.m. ABC. E. Italy-United States

Sunday 18 June
6 a.m. ABC. F. Japan-Croatia
9 a.m. ABC. F. Brasil-Australia
12 p.m. ABC. G. France-South Korea

Monday 19 June
6 a.m. ESPN2. G. Togo-Switzerland
9 a.m. ESPN2. H. Saudi Arabia-Ukraine
12 p.m. ESPN2. H. Spain-Tunisia

Group Stage Final Match
Tuesday 20 June
7 a.m. ESPN2. A. Costa Rica-Poland
7 a.m. ESPN. A. Ecuador-Germany
12 p.m. ESPN2. B. Paraguay-Trinidad & Tobago
12 p.m. ESPN. B. Sweden-England

Wednesday 21 June
7 a.m. ESPN2. D. Iran-Angola
7 a.m. ESPN. D. Portugal-Mexico
12 p.m. ESPN2. C. Ivory Coast-Serbia & Montenegro
12 p.m. ESPN. C. Holland-Argentina

Thursday 22 June
7 a.m. ESPN2. E. Czech Republic-Italy
7 a.m. ESPN. E. Ghana-United States
12 p.m. ESPN2. F. Croatia-Australia
12 p.m. ESPN. F. Japan-Brasil

Friday 23 June
7 a.m. ESPN2. H. Ukraine-Tunisia
7 a.m. ESPN. H. Saudi Arabia-Spain
12 p.m. ESPN2. G. Switzerland-South Korea
12 p.m. ESPN. G. Togo-France

Round Of 16
Saturday 24 June
8 a.m. ABC. Germany-Sweden
12 p.m. ESPN. Argentina-Mexico

Sunday 25 June
8 a.m. ABC. England-Ecuador
12 p.m. ESPN. Portugal-Holland

Monday 26 June
8 a.m. ESPN. Italy-Australia
12 p.m. ESPN. Switzerland-Ukraine

Tuesday 27 June
8 a.m. ESPN. Brasil-Ghana
12 p.m. ESPN. Spain-France

Friday 30 June
8 a.m. ESPN. GER/SWE winner - ARG/MEX winner (QF1)
12 p.m. ESPN2 ITA/AUS winner - SWI/UKR winner (QF2)

Saturday 1 July
8 a.m. ABC. ENG/ECU winner - POR/HOL winner (QF3)
12 p.m. ESPN. BRA/GHA winner - SPA/FRA winner (QF4)

Tuesday 4 July
12 p.m. ESPN. QF1 winner - QF2 winner

Wednesday 5 July
12 p.m. ESPN. QF3 winner - QF4 winner

3rd Place Match
Saturday 8 July
12 p.m. ESPN. SF1 loser - SF2 loser

World Cup Final
Subday 9 July
11 a.m. ABC. SF1 winner - SF2 winner

Top 15 College Football Plays Of All-Time

SI On Campus says that these are the top 15 college football plays of all time. I don't think they are in any particular order.

Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!

Nice to see that Lindsay Scott made the list; not sure about that Seneca Wallace play or even The Bush Push (I would argue that the 4th & 10 conversion was bigger in that game).

How did they do? What did they miss?

Billy Cannon(LSU-Ole Miss 1959)? Roy Williams (OU-UT 2001)? David Pollack (USC-UGA 2002)?

What is the best play in the history of your school?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Golf + Cursing + Bobby Knight = Pure Joy

Two of my favorite things in life are golf and profanity. I appreciate the art of profanity - hell, I own this book. Thanks to Paul over at Georgia Sports Blog I have witnessed a veritable piece de resistance in the arena of golf related cursing. It basically doesn't get any better than this. We have all been there. Some of us say it. Some of us only think it in our heads. But few of us have ever matched Coach Knight's brilliant display. It is an absolute masterpiece of Cursing on the golf course; a standard by which all others should be judged.

If you love golf and/or cursing, then please take the time to watch this entire video if you do nothing else today. You will witness the legendary Coach Knight, an artist at the zenith of his craft. If you only have a minute, then start at 2.00 and watch until 3.00, because that minute is a good as it gets.

World Cup Overview

Over the past 2 years, the 205 soccer playing nations of the world have played qualifying matches to determine the 32 participants for the 2006 World Cup Finals to be played in Germany. They were then drawn into 8 groups of 4 listed below. The tournament has two stages. First is the group stage, where each team plays the other three teams in their group, with a win earning 3 points, a draw 1 point, and a loss 0 points. After the 3 sets of group stage matches have been played, the top 2 teams in each group advance to the knockout stage, while the bottom two finishers go home (but not before receiving some lovely parting gifts).

The remaining 16 teams play the single elimination knockout phase until the finalists and then champion is crowned. Think NCAA Tournament brackets - from sweet 16 down to the finals. At this stage a match cannot end in a draw. If tied after regulation there will be 30 minutes of overtime, and if it is still tied then the winner will be determined by penalty kicks.

If you win your group then you will play a runner up of another group (the specific group is predetermined - see below), so for example if you are in the group that will play Brasil in the Round of 16 then you want to win your group to avoid them rather than place 2nd and face them. That is of course if you assume that as the heavy favorites they will have little trouble winning their group (note: France, the 2002 favorite, did not even score a goal, let alone win a match or even advance to the knockout stage).

Anyhow, here are the groups. The matches will be played at venues in 12 different German cities, with the final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. The TV Schedule is soon to follow, and in the next two weeks I will post an overview of each group as well.

Group A
Costa Rica

Group B
Trinidad & Tobago

Group C
Ivory Coast
Serbia & Montenegro

Group D

Group E
United States
Czech Republic

Group F

Group G
South Korea

Group H
Saudi Arabia

Round Of 16
1A - 2B
1B- 2A

1A/2B winner - 1C/2D winner (QF1)
1E/2F winner - 1G/2H winner (QF2)
1B-2A winner - 1D/2C winner (QF3)
1F/2E winner - 1H/2G winner (QF4)

QF1 winner - QF2 winner
QF3 winner - QF4 winner

3rd Place Match
SF1 loser - SF2 loser

World Cup Final
SF1 Winner - SF2 winner

Bay To Breakers 2006 recap:
Not Your Typical Sunday Morning

Preface: Explanation of what the hell Bay To Breakers is and recap of my 2005 experience here.

After a pre-Bay To Breakers Saturday night run to Safeway to get some ice, water bottles, and a 90 pack of tortillas, I woke up on Sunday at 5.45 a.m. and began to prepare my insulated cooler backpack for it's maiden voyage (some 3 years after I acquired it, no less). Popping a bottle of champagne at 6 a.m. is kind of weird, but anyhow I prepared two 1-liter bottles of mimosa, which took care of the champagne bottle, a 1-liter bottle of Tanqueray & Tonic, and two 1-liter bottles of water. These went into the backpack with a big bag of ice, 2 Clif bars, and my camera. A quick bagel and at 6.55 I was off to meet my good friend A10 and his crew downtown.

About 40 people dressed as salmon and did the race backwards, swimming against the current of the rest of the 65,000 of us

At the bus stop I met a Scientologist and 2 persons who referred to themselves at "members of the Mullet Army". Up rolls the 1 Bus and we're on our way. After a 20 minute ride packed with race participants, a couple of actual runners, and some akwardly stunned elderly people, I de-bus downtown and walk 5 blocks over to Mission & Main.

Dick Cheney Hunting Club

The streets are full of thousands of people dressed up as anything you can imagine, some things you probably cannot imagine, and the occasional person wearing nothing at all. No, not like that- none of the nudists are remotely good looking, and most are middle aged men. It was funny to walk past one of the hotels downtown and see scattered groups of out of towners literally agog and trying to figure out just what the hell was going on.

Elvai: never original, always funny

Met A10 and his crew and we moseyed over to the starting area along with the other 65,000 participants in this wacky, wonderful event. It is wet from earlier rain and we are hoping that it decides not to rain anymore; it looks like it could go either way. I break out my first bottle of mimosa and the 90 pack of tortillas, and we start chucking them along with everyone else. There are literally thousands of tortillas flying through the air, which for some reason is a long-standing and little understood tradition at this event. I felt bad at one point when one of my tortillas drilled a girl about 15 yards away in the face, but the tortilla gods exacted karmic revenge on me soon thereafter, as I took one squarely on the face.

Funniest sign of the day

Soon the 'race' starts and we slowly get going like an enormous herd of cattle. We are tightly knit and slow moving , and the smell of wet flour is in the air.Mimosa #1 is cashed about the time we hit the official starting line.

Yes, we've got plenty. Thanks for checking.

Just before going up Hayes hill in mile 2, we come across a group of dodgeballers, who shortly thereafter are attacked by another dodge ball team from behind. Battle ensues, and we were very much caught up in the crossfire.

Impromptu dodge ball fight

Honeybee in fishnet stings man as beer-gut Elvis looks on

Mimosa #2 is finished as we enter Golden Gate Park, which is at about the 4 mile mark. On to the T&T. It is in Golden Gate park that the 2 most noteworthy things occur. First, as I am taking the picture of the really hott S&M girl on the S&M float, she comes after me, admonishes me for taking her picture, makes me bend over, and spanks me with her riding crop. After a wiseass comment from me, she repeats this 3 or 4 times and then smacks my face as well. I won't lie to you - I didn't mind so much.

I was a bad boy.

I got punished.

Later on none other than the Stanford tree came up behind us to a raucous chorus of hisses, taunts, and boos. Although Palo Alto isn't too much farther away from SF than Berkeley, the Tree was in Bear territory and he knew it, which is why he had 6 security guards to usher him through the day. In the end they proved to not be the best security guards, as the tree was bum-rushed, attacked, and tackled by a dude dressed as the Easter Bunny wearing a Russian fur hat.

Rabid Cal fan A10 thinks the Tree is #2 (or is it #11?)

A scuffle broke out, the Easter Bunny gained immediate hero status among all of the Cal fans walking near us, and some very heated words were exchanged. Oski The Bear should watch his back the next time he is in Palo Alto. Bears will be bears...

Mobile pool party with Life Beer Guards

Shortly after this we ran out of alcohol, at about the 6.5 mile mark, which taught me a lesson for next year. Out: 3 liters of alcohol, 2 liters of water. In: 4 liters of alcohol, 1 liter of water.

The pirate ship "Aaargasm"

How they got this up Hayes hill I'll never know

That's about it. Kenyan Gilbert Okari won the actual race, covering the 7.46 miles in 34 minutes and twenty seconds. When we finally made it to the ocean and the finish line the clock said 3 hrs, 41 minutes, but I guarantee you that we had much more fun than Gilbert (although he walked ran away with $37,000).

We went over to the Beach Chalet, sat out on the grass and had lunch and a beer, then the rains came and we caught the bus home.

The three best floats were:

3) Fully functional ping pong table on top, shopping carts loaded with beer & a keg below. They would stop occasionally and break into games of beer pong. Pretty strong.

Mobile Table Tennis anyone?

2) The Wild Mustache Ride, staffed amazingly by 2 hot chicks. Don't think I need to get into too much detail. Mustache Wednesday originator Orson Swindle was rumored to have bankrolled and staffed this float from his EDSBS Castle in ATL.

The official B2B float of EDSBS.

1) The FEMA float, modeled after a coast guard ship only full of alcohol, with about 20 dudes sporting "FEMA Search & Rescue" T-shirts. On the side of their boat it said "FEMA: We'll get around to it." Pretty Epic.

Heck of a job, boys. Heck of a job.

I have done this event twice now, and it is probably the most fun thing I have done out here, which is saying a hell of a lot. If you ever find yourself in the Bay area on the 3rd weekend in May, you definitely need to partake in this event and experience it for yourself.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

From The Dept. of Are You Shitting Me?:
PV4 Gassed Unconscious, Robbed

Sports begets insanity, usually in the form of extremely wacky behavior by fans, and most of it is good for a laugh but no one is seriously affected. But a huge problem in South America, specifically Brasil, is star players and/or their family members being kidnapped and held for ransom by gangs or other criminal elements. Superstars like Romario and Robinho have had to deal with this in recent years, and it is a very serious and scary problem.

Now this, from France of all places: former Arsenal captain/legend, and current Juventus star Patrick Vieira, his wife, and his child were gassed unconscious in their own home and robbed of lots and lots of valuables as well as a Mercedes Benz.

Mess with PV4 at your own peril

Unbelieveable. Fortunately they are all OK, just a little light in the wallet and garage. Here's hoping that they apprehend Les Idiots Dangerouses and bring them to justice, and that PV4 goes on to kick ass for France at the World Cup.


5 men arrested for doing the job. In addition to whatever punishment the French courts mete out, I propose that PV4 himself should get to do this a few times to each of the burglars:

More effective crime deterrant
than jail or community service

***Update II***

What a bizarre week for Vieira: he, along with the rest of the France team, had to climb up a glacier in the Alps as part of their World Cup training.

Dan Magill: The Bill Brasky of
The University Of Georgia

Dan Magill. Bulldog Legend.

The best part of my trip last night to watch the NCAA Tennis finals was that I ran into and got a chance to chat with the legendary Coach Dan Magill. He is probably the most remarkable person in UGA Athletics history. I had spoken with him several times while a student at UGA during the NCAA tennis championships, which used to be in Athens every year. It was really cool to see Coach Magill again and chat him up for a few minutes.

If you do nothing else today, read that Wikipedia article linked above as well as this article about his amazing life and/or this one from the UGA site.

Coach Magill's 1985 National Champs

His accomplishments in life are absolutely mind boggling, and unlike Bill Brasky or Chuck Norris, they are all true. Here are but some of them:

*Currently FIFTY people in the UGA athletic department perform the job duties that he once did all by himself

*Table tennis state champion at age 10; defeated the adult state champion as a 12 year old

*Travelled to China to train Chinese table tennis players

*1941 University of Georgia Tennis Tournament Champion

*4 years in the Marines, 1942-1945

*UGA Assistant Athletic Director, 1950-1995

*UGA Sports Information Director, 1950-1976.

*The press box in Sanford Stadium is named after him, and his seat assignment in the press box reads, "Dan Magill - Legend."

*UGA Men's Tennis Coach, 1954-1988

*Winningest coach in Men's Tennis history: 706-183 (.794%). Also 2 national championships and 21 SEC Championships

Coach Magill's 1987 National Champs

*Responsible for the creation of the Georgia Bulldog Clubs

*Travelled to all 159 Georgia counties in 1953 to establish Georgia Bulldog Clubs

*Built UGA's tennis complex, the nation's finest and now named after him

*Responsible for establishing the Collegiate Tennis Hall Of Fame at UGA's Tennis complex, also named after him

*Author of two books, "Bull-Doggerel" and "Match Pointers"

*Member of first class inducted into University of Georgia's "Circle of Honor", 1996

Most men are happy to be breathing at age 85.
Coach Magill is literally a human dynamo.

As impressive at all that is, check out what he is currently up to at age 85:

* Chairman, Curator and tour guide, Collegiate Tennis Hall Of Fame

* #1 ranked USTA Men's 80 Singles player in the Southeast

*Still writes a weekly sports column for the Athens Banner Herald (click here - registration free but required)

*Currently working on two books, one about the history of collegiate tennis and another about his 4 years in the Marines during WWII.

*Accomplished gardener, his yard has been featured in the Banner-Herald and in the International Home and Garden Show, and he has received a commendation from the Garden Club of America

Damn Good Dawg.

Coach Magill is literally a living legend, and is known for his encyclopedic fountain of knowledge in all things UGA Athletics and collegiate tennis. He is also extremely kind and gracious. If you are ever in want of something to do in Athens you should take a tour from Coach Magill of the Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame, and ask him lots of questions about anything pertaining to UGA and/or UGA athletics in the past 65 years - I am sure he will tell you some amazing stories.

Pepperdine Upset Georgia
To Win National Championship
(All But One With Class And Honor)

Drove down to Palo Alto last night to watch the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship Final between #1 ranked (and undefeated) UGA and #2 Pepperdine. Although not nearly as large as UGA's facility (The Dan Magill Tennis Complex, widely considered the best in the nation), the Stanford facility is very nice, as you would expect for a school with tons of money and athletic success, specifically tennis (17 national championships; Roscoe Tanner, John McEnroe, Tim Mayotte, Patrick McEnroe, Alex O'Brien, etc).

A nice facility on a beautiful campus

Anyhow on to the match. Here's how it works: there are 7 points up for grabs, so the first team to 4 points wins. There are 6 singles matches, each worth 1 point each. Preceding this there are 3 doubles matches, which are worth a total of 1 point. Whichever team wins 2 out of 3 of the doubles matches is awarded the "doubles point". All 3 doubles matches were extremely close, and Pepperdine ended up winning 2 of them and taking the doubles point to go up 1-0. The doubles point always seems so insignificant in the beginning but never fails to prove crucial in the end. This was only the 4th time out of 30 matches this year that Georgia lost the doubles point.

Although this was the 4th match in 4 days for each team, Pepperdine definitely looked like they had more pep in their step then Georgia. Perhaps this was due to their easy defeat of Texas in their semifinal on Monday (4-1), while Georgia had a hard-fought, knock-down drag-out come from behind victory over Baylor (4-3) in their semifinal. Additionally, Georgia played in the final time slot all week, so they were going late into the night which probably meant that Pepperdine was a little more well-rested. After watching the doubles you got the feeling that Georgia was a bit of a woulded animal, that Pepperdine knew it, and they were really motivated to think that they could reverse their 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Georgia in the National Indoor Championship earlier in the year and be the first team this year to actually beat Georgia. Georgia seemed a wee bit lethargic/tired, and it was clear that they would need to dig deep to win.

Pepperdine clearly had more fans there than Georgia, which makes sense considering that they are a Southern California school so their alumni diaspora in the Bay Area is considerably larger than Georgia's. However, the Georgia fans who were there were pretty vocal which definitely evened things out a bit, including 3 shirtless dudes with "U", "G", and "A" painted on their chests. At a tennis match. Wow.

So the 6 singles matches are played concurrently, which means that if you have ADD then collegiate tennis is not the sport for you. Pepperdine won at #6 singles to go up 2-0, but Georgia won the first set in all of the other 5 matches so things looked manageable. But then the #3 singles dude for UGA, Antonio Ruiz, came from ahead to lose 6-1, 1-6, 4-6. It appeared like he simply ran out of gas (all credit to the Pepperdine dude though, who was on fire). The Dawgs were now down 0-3 and officially up against it. UGA pulled 2 points back with wins at #1 and #5 singles, so they now trailed 2-3 and had to win the #2 and #4 singles matches, both of which went to a 3rd set after Georgia won the first and Pepperdine the 2nd. If only they had won that doubles point, they would have been up 3-2 needing only 1 win from these two matches. I told you that doubles point always ends up being huge...

The official reports will simply tell you that although the UGA #2 player was ahead 3-2 (and up a break) in the 3rd set, Pepperdine won the #4 match to win the national championship 4-2, but there is more to it than that. We had moved over the the stands directly behind court 4 because it was apparent that this is what the whole thing came down to. Tied at 4-4 in the 3rd set, Andre Begemann of Pepperdine was able to break the serve of Georgia's Matic Omerzel, so he was serving for the match at 5-4. The crowd was pretty intense, with lots of yelling and encouraging from both sides between points.

Anyway, Andre is serving for the match and the NCAA Championship at 5-4, but loses the first point to fall behind 0-15. At 0-15, he rushes the net after a long rally and Matic hits a beautiful topspin lob over his head. Andre turns and runs back to try to get it, but it is quickly apparent that he has no chance to get to it. The ball lands not on the line but inside the line, and Andre calls it out (In collegiate tennis the players call their own lines and there is a chair umpire with the power to uphold or overrule calls if appealed to by either opponent). The ball was so obviously and clearly good that it is apparent that Andre is "hooking" Matic, which in tennis parlance means that he is cheating and attempting "to get away with one".

Immediate outrage and yelling from the stands. Matic appeals to the chair umpire, who amazingly does not overrule the call, probably because Andre was directly in between him and where the ball landed, so I can only guess that he did not have a view of it himself. If he had a clear view of it there is absolutely no way that he wouldn't have overturned the call - it was that obvious. More outrage. The Pepperdine head coach, who is standing just to the side of the court, turns to Andre and tells him that the ball is in. This is a nudging act of sportsmanship on the part of Pepperdine's coach, and an implicit hint that Andre should change his call and concede the point. Andre and the coach go back and forth several times, and the coach tells Andre no less than 5 times the ball was in fact in. We are all close enough to hear this so we implore the chair umpire to ask the coach, but per the rules he is not allowed to do this - only the player can change the call. So after cheating, and then being told by his head coach 5 times that the ball was in, Andre refuses to change his call and serves at 15-15 rather than 0-30. He goes on to hold serve, win the match, and clinch the national championship for Pepperdine.

Maybe if you cheat more in practice
you can one day make it up to #3 singles.

Would Andre have come back from 0-30 down to win that game anyways? He very well might have. But the odds are against it. Yes, if Matic had broken his serve that would only have made it 5-5, and anything could have happened. So I am not saying that if he had not cheated on this one call that Georgia definitely would have won the national championship. One call does not a best of 7 tennis match make. But it was extremely critical given the situation and the resulting hole that he would have been in. Bottom line is that his behavior was unsporting, classless, and dishonorable. It was a sad way to see it end, and a black eye on an otherwise wonderfully played series of matches.

And before you tell me that I am being a total homer because I wanted Georgia to win, I can assure you that this call was so unbelievably bad that every Pepperdine fan in the stands acknowledged that is was flat out wrong, not to mention that the Pepperdine head coach told the player to his face 5 times that the ball was clearly in.

So anyways, my point is not that Pepperdine's title is illegitimate or that this one call definitively prevented Georgia from winning. My point is that Andre Begemann of Pepperdine is a miserable cheating bastard, that there is no honor in winning the way he did, and that if he ever makes it big-time as a professional player and you see him play, you should remind him of what a wanker he is and why.

Now then, congratulations to Pepperdine for winning their first national championship. They played well and were able to slay the 30-0 UGA dragon that seemed unbeatable. I tip my hat to them and offer them my hearty congratulations. Except Mr. Begemann. He can kindly fuck off.

The individual tournaments get underway today and run through Monday. The top 64 ranked singles players make the singles tournament, while the top 32 ranked doubles teams make the doubles tournament.

Georgia's #1 player, John Mayer Isner, is ranked #2 nationally and thus seeded #2 in the singles draw. The UGA junior was 44-2 on the year in singles matches, and is currently riding a 28 match winning streak. At 6 foot 9, he looks like he should be playing basketball for UGA rather then tennis. He has a massive serve and it suprisingly mobile for someome his size. I hear he plays a hell of an acoustic guitar and is quite popular with the ladies as well.

Every man's dream: athlete AND rock star

Georgia #2 singles player, Luis Flores, enters the singles tournament unseeded. He is latin and lefthanded, and he is the guy on the UGA team that your wife/girlfriend/significant other would watch all day long because they would think that he was a total hottie.

In doubles, Isner and Antonio Ruiz, currently ranked #9, will attempt to defend the national title that they won last year in doubles, while the senior duo of Colin Purcell and Strahinja Bobusic, ranked #20, have also made the field of 32.

Here's hoping that they all bounce back from last night's disappointment and do well in their individual tournaments.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

UGA Men's Tennis Playing for National Championship Tonight

So the #1 ranked and now 30-0 Georgia Men's Tennis team came from behind to beat Baylor last night in the national semifinals 4-3, after rolling Notre Dame 4-0 in the round of 16 on Saturday and Virginia 4-0 in the quarterfinals on Sunday. They have now advanced to the national finals for the 11th time, and will be seeking their 5th national title (1985, 1987, 1999, 2001).

Georgia will face #2 Pepperdine tonight at 6.30 p.m. PST down at Stanford in Palo Alto. I am going to drive down after work and check it out. This is a rematch of the ITA National Team Indoor Tournament earlier this year in which Georgia defeated Pepperdine 4-0. Another undefeated national championship tonight would be nice. It would be Georgia's 12th national championship since 2000.

Georgia has had a wonderful year athletically, already winning seven conference championships and capturing the SEC All-Sports trophy (finally ending Florida's 14 year stranglehold on said title).

Additionally, in the next two weeks the #6 ranked women's golf team will compete at the NCAA National Championships, as will the #1 ranked men's golf team, who will attempt to defend their 2005 national title. Lastly, the #9 ranked baseball team is on fire (14-1 in their last 15 games) and ready to make a run at the SEC Tournament Championship and College World Series.

Go Dawgs!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Barbaro Survives Surgery

Excellent news: Barbaro survived a 6 hour surgery this afternoon and has walked back to his stall under his own power. He is by no means out of the woods, but surviving to this point is pretty damn amazing - most horses with leg injuries this severe never even make it into surgery. This article provides excellent information on the procedure, post-procedure, and the keys for the horse's survival going forward. It basically explains everything better than I ever could, like the fact that if a horse has a bone that is broken into 20 different pieces, and 6 hours later walks back to his stall on his own, then those equine veteranians are total and complete miracle workers.

The man on the right is a hell of
trainer and a really nice guy.
The man on the left is a freaking wizard.

Thoroughbred race horses are amazing animals. At distances greater than 1/4 of a mile, they are the fastest animals on Earth. They weigh between 1200 - 1500 pounds and can run in excess of 35 miles per hour, yet their ankles are the same size as yours and mine. That's pretty mindboggling if you think about it for a minute.

As strong, muscular, and gallant as they are, they are also extremely fragile animals. Leg injuries to Thoroughbred race horses are rather common. But horses breaking down is not that common. The most heartbreaking thing about when they do is that unlike humans, they do not stop, but rather they keep on trying to run.

I was only 1 year old when the famous filly Ruffian broke down during a nationally televised match race and had to be euthanized. I was not yet into horse racing in 1990 when famous horse Go For Wand broke down in the Breeders Cup Distaff and had to be euthanized. I wasn't really into racing yet in 1993 ( I think I watched the Derby that year and that is all) when Union City broke down during the Preakness and had to be euthanized, and then three weeks later in the Belmont when the Preakness winner Prairie Bayou broke down and had to be euthanized.

I was very much into horse racing in 1999 when Charismatic broke down in the stretch run of the Belmont, but his life was saved during a through the night surgery and he survived to live a healthy life. I can only hope that Barbaro does the same. If he does he will become just as famous and beloved as if he had remained healthy and won the Triple Crown.