Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kentucky Derby 101.9: A Guide For Derby Virgins

This year, amongst others, there are some notable Derby Virgins: Bonita, Paul Westerdawg, a few people who emailed me, and there are even rumors that legendary Big East Ken might fall out of the sky at the last second.

As such, I decided to write a handy guide for anyone coming to Louisville and attending their first Kentucky Derby; such people are often referred to as Derby Virgins. So here it is.

1. Tout Your
Derby Virginity
Kentuckians are a hospitable bunch, and at no other time are they more friendly and hospitable than for Derby, which is a massive point of pride for the entire state and their single annual chance to shine on the national and world stage. As such they love showing visitors a great time and will go to great lengths to be super hospitable and friendly. If you are a Derby Virgin, then this desire to please increases tenfold. So when people strike up friendly conversations with you or vicey versey, be sure to mention that this is your 1st Derby. They are sure to be excited and may do something extra special for you. Not just locals, either. At the Derby, tell everyone you meet that it is your first time and you will receive universal approvals and smiles. Basically the complete opposite of advertising your sexual virginity back in the day.

2. Be Prepared: Weather & What To Pack/Wear
In 1997, my 1st Derby, we all stumbled out of bed, didn’t check the weather, and rolled to Churchill Downs in shorts, t shirts, and I think I had a windbreaker. A front rolled in and all of a sudden it is 37 degrees, cloudy, raw and cold. My windbreaker went to my GF at the time and it was freezing, almost literally, but I had $5 across the board on Silver Charm and got to see him cross the wire through a fence from our old secret spot in the infield near the finish line, which warmed me right up. In 2001 it was 88 and humid as hell, with not a cloud in the sky. It felt like 100, I was hungover as hell, and was pretty miserable.

So basically you can get anything in early may in Louisville, from 30s and sleet to 90. Keep checking the weather forecast and have a few contingency plans as far as dress – shorts, pants, light jacket, etc. That being said, you can wear anything from an Armani suit or ball gown to jorts and a wifebeater, and everything in between. The key is to keep your eye on the weather and pick an outfit that you will be comfortable in.

3A Derby Week is a Marathon Not a Sprint; Party Accordingly
You are more than likely going to be engaging in multiple partying sessions in 48 hours, so beware. You know that point after about 3 drinks when you make that decision to scale it back and just keep a nice buzz, or say “fuck it!” and set the SS Drink to the "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" setting? Well during Derby week choose wisely, as you may nullify or greatly reduce the fun of future sessions. For example, I have had way too much to drink on Thursday night, been hungover/sick Friday to where I could not drink Friday night, but then was good to go for Derby on Saturday. I have partied way too hard on Friday night and been hungover and miserable at the track on Saturday, etc, etc. The goal is to have fun without getting messy during all 3 of your sessions- the 2 night ones, as well as all day at the track on Saturday.

Our routine these days is to go out Thursday night, go out Friday night, and then Derby on Saturday, then chill, relax, stay in on Saturday night when we are exhausted. Many others do the Friday night/Derby at the track/go out Saturday night trifecta, but it is for Viking warriors only, as you are talking about 3 heavy partying sessions in 24 hours. Either way you are looking at 3 partying sessions in 36-48 hours, so use extreme care when making those decisions after your 3rd drink, because going balls out with the drinking night and day doesn’t work, and will lead to a crash and burn- trust me, I have lived it many times and in many variants.

3B. Sleep/Preparation
On top of what I just said, you will probably not get a normal amount of sleep all weekend; similar to a Vegas experience. This is surely moreso for me, as I have lots of locals to visit and my days are full of activities and whatnot that would not be the case if I knew no one in town and was staying in a hotel with a few other people, but still beware. Flying in from the West Coast on a redeye makes it even trickier, as you are starting out the trip on no sleep.

In 2006 I landed Thursday morning off a redeye, started out pretty exhausted, drank waaaaaaay too much on Thursday night, ran into Earl about 3 a.m., then got up at 7 a.m. Friday to play golf, then met friends, and was done. When it was time to go out Friday night I realized that I had a choice: go out Friday and the Derby would be a total waste as my body would fail, or sacrifice Friday night, get some sleep, and enjoy Saturday at the track. I chose the latter, and it worked out, although I missed out on meeting up with some hilarious Geordie Newcastle fans I was told. Just an illustration of the drinking/decision making described above {read: don’t say “fuck it!” after 3 drinks on Thursday night, get shitfaced, then fertilize the lawn around The Hits mailbox as well as Brain’s wife’s beautiful bathroom sink}.

A good idea is to go neo-con and do a pre-emptive attack on sleep deprivation/potential exhaustion. Try to get a nice full night’s sleep the night prior to going to Louisville, and even the couple before then, so that you hit the ground fresh. Of course, yours truly finished packing last night at 2.30 a.m. and got up to go to work at 6.30 a.m., so do as I say and not as I did. At least not having the red eye exhaustion this year is a massive, massive benefit; I get in late Wednesday and will get a “normal” night’s sleep.

Also, naps are a good idea. Sneak them in whenever possible.

4. The Derby Economy: Straight Cash, Homey
Don’t go all modern and bring only the debit card to Churchill Downs; it’s an overwhelmingly cash economy. General Admission is $40 cash and you’re in; back when VISA was the main sponsor of the Triple Crown they had it setup where you could pay to get in on your VISA card only {no MC or AMEX}, but to be honest I do not know if this is still an option since VISA dropped out of the sponsorship game 2 years ago. Even then, paying with VISA would slow things down considerably, and when you have 100,000 people paying to get in general admission, it’s much faster and easier to have cash at the ready to get your ass in.

Once in it’s much the same. The betting windows only accept cash, unless you are in the clubhouse or Millionaire’s row they may have new fancy touchscreen machines that allow you to use debit, but I don’t know and if you are going to Millionaire’s Row of the Clubhouse then you aren’t reading this right now, you’re reading Forbes and Cigar Aficionado, or maybe the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal. Anyhow, any betting that you want to do requires straight cash, homey, so plan accordingly.
Food is cash only as well, as are mint juleps. I think the merch booths might allow credit, but I’m not 100%.
Basically, you need to cash up before you get to CD. There are a few scattered ATMs around, but with 155,000 people on site you’ll be waiting in a long ass line if you find one, so plan ahead and hit an ATM before you go to the Downs. And obviously, safeguard your cash in a secure place, because this in theory would be a pickpocketer’s wet dream. Literally thousands of people with literally millions of dollars in cash on their persons. I have never heard of or seen or been picked, but with an on track handle {money taken in at the betting windows} on Derby day north of $20 million cash, not to mention the $3-4 million cash taken in at the gate, as well as food, drink, and merch money it goes without saying to be careful with your wad of cash.

5. At The Track: Churchill Downs
If you want to rage/party, then go to the 3rd turn in the infield. Like Mardi Gras or the biggest college house party you have ever been too, with nudity too! The later in the afternoon it gets, the nuttier it gets. We used to do that all the time when we were younger...

... but now that we are older, and we are also into the horses, these days we enjoy camping out by the paddock{where the horses are led in, get saddled, and the riders climb on before they go back out to the track to race}, which is much more chill. There we get to see the incredibly beautiful racehorses up close and personal (like 5 feet away- if you are into horses/horse racing at all then you really should walk over at some point to the paddock and see the horses come in and go out- they are just amazing}, drink juleps, bet the races all day, spot celebrities {seeing OJ at Derby = beyond surreal} and hang out and chill. An added bonus is easy access from the paddock to a covered section which offers intermittent shade on hot days and a dry place when it occasionally rains. We really loved the infield scene when we were younger but now that we're all 30 somethings this is more our scene these days.
Do not try to sneak alcohol in. This was an old tradition where people would get more creative than you would ever imagine, but after 9/11 they went a bit nutty with the gate security and now it is damn near impossible, so don’t try because your shit will get tossed into one of several massive plastic trash bins with the hundreds other failed bottles. Save your money and either drink more before you go to the track or to buy beer/juleps once inside.
Also, they provide a comprehensive list nowadays of exactly what you can and cannot bring into the track, mainly because the VERBOTEN category grew exponentially after 9/11 and lots of people who had been coming for years were caught off guard and pissed.

On a related note, the lunch food options are kind of crap, overpriced/undercooked burgers, brats, pork sandwiches, and the like. However, you are allowed to bring in food as long as it is in a clear plastic container, so we find it best to simply stop off at Subway on our way to CD and sandwich up. Subway rocks the clear plastic bags so they’re perfect, and it’s cheaper, tastes better, and is healthier than most of the food available inside the track. Invariably each year once we get in and start to grub down, 20 people come up to us while we are eating and say “oh, man- where did y’all get that?” and they are disappointed when we tell them that it’s from the outside world {and no they can’t have a bite}.
As far as betting, get your bets in early. There are a ton of betting windows but not enough to accommodate 155,000 people without a bit of a line. So don’t expect to cruise up to a window with 4 minutes to post and get that juicy bet down at the last minute because you saw a horse take a massive dump while walking out onto the track. You might make it, but you might not. There’s about 45 minutes between each of the 12 races, so if you want to bet the next race then give yourself plenty of time to get the bet in; depending on where you are and which race you can expect to wait in line at the betting window for anywhere from 0 to 15 minutes, and 20 is not unheard of in the infield.
Everything I just said, double at least for the Derby. The Derby is the 10th race, and if you wait until after the 9th race to get your bet in because you want to see the current odds {displayed on totes and screens all over the track}, then I’d get in line with at least 30 minutes to go. At least. If you know what horse you want to bet, then my best advice is to get your bet in earlier in the day, then it is done with, your bets are in, and you can enjoy the spectacle instead of stressing out over whether or not you are going to get your bet in.
I have a bunch of Derby bets that I make for others all over the country, and I get those bets in and done early in the day- one less thing to worry about. If you have anyone back at home who asked you to make a bet for them, I highly recommend doing the same and getting them out of the way early in the day.

The official Derby Program has a page explaining how to place your bet with the ticket taker- how to say it – that is a good guide. Most ticket takers are also very friendly and will be happy to help you. Basically you state the race number {there are 12 races, the Derby being the 10th}, although if you are betting the Derby many people say “the Derby” instead of “the 10th”, then the type of bet followed by the program number of the horse. For example, you might say “In the 6th, I’d like $10 to win on the 2, a $2 exacta box with the 4, 7, and 11, and $5 to place on the 8”. Do not use horse names, only their numbers.

I’ll finish with two words for checking out the unbelievably bountiful ‘scenery’: dark sunglasses. No one likes a gawker- it’s unseemly.

6. Souveniers- The Julep Glass
The best souvenir for yourself, or to take home to loved ones, is easily and without question the julep glass, which are unique each year and feature the official Derby art & logo for that year, as well as a list of every derby winner. They are cool as hell. Anyhow, juleps at the track are now $10 from the julep man, but are served in these glasses which you get to keep. I have found over the years that keeping them at the track all day and lugging them around and getting them home in one piece is tricky. They also have a terrible tendency to get stuck when you stack them together- like hermetically sealed stuck, to where unsticking them can result in broken glass. Plus after the long day they are dirty, sticky, and tricky.

A great alternative for getting your Derby glasses out of the way is to buy them at a local store. They’re like $2 each, and they sell them EVERYWHERE: Walmart, corner stores, supermarkets, liquor stores, gas stations, the airport, you name it. It’s easier to buy 1 or 10 of these at a store for taking home- they’re clean, unused, and most stores will wrap them in paper for you and if you buy enough put them in a box. {another tip is to use your socks to wrap/stuff them for the trip home to keep them from breaking, especially if you are flying}.

My usual plan is to buy most of what I’ll need for glasses at a store, and then if a couple or three survive Derby day and get back in one piece then add them to the mix, and if needed hit a store on the way out of town. Alternately, you could just see if you can get a few out of the track in one piece and then order them online once you get back home and just have them shipped to you.

7. Nightlife: Derby After Dark
As far as nightlife/bars, Bardstown Road is the best spot. There is a place called Phoenix Hill Tavern that is one of the coolest bars I have ever been in my life. It's like being a little kid in a treehouse: multiple floors, rooms/levels, indoors & out, with 6-8 different areas with bands/music from A to Z. It's like $10 to get in Fri & Sat but worth it, and it is hoppin with honeys as well {not that everywhere else isn't}. This is a REALLY fun place to go party, and literally has something for everyone. If you are only to go out to one place on Fri or Sat night, go here.
Another cool place is down the street a ways, an Irish bar called O'Sheas. Also on Bardstown Rd. Much smaller, but has a nice chill scene and 2 different areas with live music.

If you want to go to an EPIC dive bar and have a fun experience, there is a place called The Back Door {amazingly NOT a gay bar} that is an outstanding dive bar.

It's in a strip mall off Bardstown Road, close to Burrito As Big As Your Head {more on that in a minute} but across the street. Go in and order a tray of "Blue Buckys". It a blue shooter drink, and I think you get 6 or 8 on a tray, and they are like $2 each. Go with your group for a couple or five trays, totally worth it, a GREAT dive bar experience.
Finally, Make sure to make a run for Burrito As Big As Your Head, yes that really is the name of the restaurant {actually it's La Bamba: Burrito As Big As Your Head}:

Their tagline is "Open Til The Bars Close" and the bars in Louisville close at either 4 a.m. or 6 a.m., so this is a wonderful place for late night eats. And yes, if you get the large burrito, and hold it up to your head, you will see that they former is in fact longer than the latter.

A few nightlife options that I don't recommend:
 4th Street is a big scene but too packed and crazy for my taste. It is very similar to the Landing in Jacksonville on Georgia/Florida weekend. Great if you are a college student or under 25 and just want to get wasted amongst the biggest crowd, but once you are a little older it's just too many people crammed in too small of a space. Check that- it's too many drunk people crammed into too small of a space.

Also avoid the 'Chow Wagon', which is very lame. It is the same thing as a county fair- corn dog vendors, cotton candy, other shitty overpriced fair food, and a concert, and I think maybe fireworks. The only reason to go would be if the concert performer was someone you really liked.

8. Eats
Everyone’s tastes are so different that this is a fool’s errand, so you are on your own. I know that if you are near the Ole Hickory Pit BBQ then it is an absolute must, but note that they do the Chick-Fil-A and are closed on Sundays.

Another good place if you are in the neighborhood is Pie Kitchen on Bardstown road, famous for their homemade ice cream, desserts, and of course Derby Pie. Old school charm {think Hodgson’s in Five Points in Athens, GA} and amazing desserts. 

So there it is. Enjoy losing your Derby Virginity, as you only get to give it away once. And it only hurts for a minute; after that it is wonderful, and you’ll be wanting to do it again and again for the rest of your life.
Brain, The Hit, Solon, Tasso- what did I miss?

Derby 134 Field Is Set

Greetings from Louisville, where the local time is 2.24 a.m. EST.

The field for Derby 134 is set, and the big story is that Big Brown, the morning line favorite at 3-1, drew the outside post and will start from the 20 hole. Not desirable at all, but his connections were 16th to choose and didn't want the rail {1} or 18 or 19- they'd rather be on the far outside with less chance of getting pinched between horses. He won the Florida Derby from the outside post, and they'll be hoping that he can do that again, but he'll be going against history in a major way: the last horse to win from the 20 post was Clyde Van Dusen in 1929, and in the last 32 Derbies there have been 6 starters fro the 20 post, with only 1 3rd place finish between them.

But, if you believe that he is a freak that can outrun all his other historical disadvantages {more on this tomorrow}, then you most likely wouldn't stop supporting him because of this.

Here's the entire field with post position, horse, jockey, trainer, and morning line odds:

1 Cool Coal Man, Julien Leparoux, Nick Zito, 20-1

2 Tale of Ekati, Eibar Coa, Barclay Tagg, 15-1

3 Anak Nakal, Rafael Bejarano, Nick Zito, 30-1

4 Court Vision, Garrett Gomez, Bill Mott, 20-1

5 Eight Belles (f), Gabriel Saez, Larry Jones, 15-1

6 Z Fortune, Robby Albarado, Steve Asmussen, 30-1

7 Big Truck, Javier Catellano, Barclay Tagg, 50-1

8 Visionaire, Jose Lezcano, Michael Matz, 20-1

9 Pyro, Shaun Bridgmohan, Steve Asmussen, 6-1

10 Colonel John, Corey Nakatani, Eoin Harty, 4-1

11 Z Humor, Rene Douglas, Bill Mott, 30-1

12 Smooth Air, Manoel Cruz, Bennie Stutts Jr., 20-1

13 Bob Jack Black, Rich Migliore, James Kasparoff, 20-1

14 Monba, Ramon Dominguez, Todd Pletcher, 15-1

15 Adriano, Edgar Prado, Graham Motion, 30-1

16 Denis of Cork, Calvin Borel, David Carroll, 20-1

17 Cowboy Cal, John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 20-1

18 Recapturetheglory, E.T. Baird, Louie Roussel, 20-1

19 Gayego, Mike Smith, Paulo Lobo, 15-1

20 Big Brown, Kent Desormeaux, Rick Dutrow Jr., 3-1

(f) - filly
All horses carry 126 pounds.

Derby 134 Post Position Draw Today at 2 p.m. PST

The field of 20 will draw for Post Position today at 2 p.m. PST on ESPN2, or you can follow it live at This is extremely important, especially for the favorites, as drawing a bad post can be the kiss of death. Bad posts include the extreme outside, 19 & 20, as well as the rail, 1. After the draw the Derby field will be set, barring scratches.

I'm very sorry about my lack of Derby writings- the last 3 weeks have been beyond insane. I plan to remedy that today however, as I leave work and life behind and bring my laptop on my cross country journey to Louisville later today. I will have stuff up tonight depending on internet access at SFO & the Denver airport, and more tomorrow and Friday as well.

In the meantime, if you can only read one dude, that dude should be Steve Haskin and his Derby Reports, provided that you can handle some of the horse racing terminology- bar none he is the best out there. Also, The Bloodhorse is the best site as well, so hook that up before you hit DRF or the official Derby site.

Finally, I'm foregoing the Arsenal jersey and shorts route this year, which means one thing, and one thing only: pimpin'. Here's a little preview in the form of the shoes I picked up yesterday.

That's Mr. Two Tone Blue Gators to you, son.

I'm off to the airport, beyond geeked.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Barcelona Stars Complete Their Season Of Fail

Manchester United 1-0 Barcelona

Funny that the match was decided by a goal from Scholes, who I singled out as being potentially more harmful to ManUtd than good. In saying that I was failing to take into account the 1 thing that he can still do well, which is shoot screaming rocket shots from outside the box, which is just what he did. It was his only shot of the match and damn near his only involvement of the match, but it was a brilliant shot that will make him even more of a hero for ManUtd fans.

It must be noted also that Scholes shot was set up not by a teammate but by what the Brits call a "moment of madness" from Barca right back Zambrotta. After taking the ball of C Ronaldo, he decided against the natural instinct of every defender in the world at every level, to turn outside to the safer area of the sideline, where he had a teammate that he could see who was open who he could easily pass to, and instead decided to turn inward, and without looking pass the ball into the center with his left foot. The ball went to directly to a wide open Scholes, who couldn't have teed it up any better, and that was that. In addition to the key play of the match, Zambrotta had an awful game, getting beaten repeatedly, and having to foul, and eventually getting booked for repeated bad fouls. In my mind he was the man of the match for Manchester United, who arguably could not have won without his contribution.

The other striking thing about this match, and this season in general, is how poorly this star studded Barcelona team play. The last 4 years they have played beautiful stuff, but more importantly they played for each other and passed well and linked up well, the zenith of which was with Ronaldinho, Eto'o, and Messi all linking up well with Deco pulling the strings. Just two years ago Deco was like the Quarterback, Ronaldinho was the star running back, and Eto'o and Messi were the great wide receivers. That shit is gone. Now Barcelona have more individual talent than anyone around, but they do not play well with each other, and they do not link up well. They most defintiely play like a bunch of individuals rather than a team, and today was a perfect example. Whether it was Messi or Eto'o or Deco or Henry, they all seem to try to do it all themselves, and the great interplay of the last few years seems to have completely broken down. They have gone from the American football analogy above to a stereotypical NBA team of mercenary stars who play for themselves and not for the team, and when they get the ball seem more inclined to take on their defender 1 on 1 or 1 on 3 rather than play like a team, together, and for each other. For fuck's sake today was the Champions League semifinal 2nd leg, and they seemed to be going through the motions for the first 2/3 of the match before a final 20 minutes of desperation. It's hard to say about a team that had 60% possession and passes the ball around quite a bit, but they no longer seem to be out there playing for each other, rather for themselves. Certainly all the Team Turmoil talk must be true.

Let this season's Barcelona team be introduced into evidence as Exhibit A against all of the overreactionary, irrational Arsenal fans who are saying that Arsene must break up the team and sign 3 or 4 world class players in order to "solve" Arsenal's problems. Last season Barca lost La Liga by 1 point, and had Messi & Eto'o each miss half the season with injuries. I said at the time there was no need to alter the squad, that they should just keep everyone and with their style, players, and team chemistry that would be better than signing a bunch of stars. Henry, Thuram, Zambrotta, and Edmilson were brought in and this season they not only had poor results but played poor {for their standard} soccer.

This really reminds me of Arsenal this year. More points than they have had in 4 years, will probably finish within 4-5 points of the league title, and with RVP, Rosicky, and Eduardo all missing more than half the season. This team should not be broken up, it should be retained and give it another go with a healthy squad and maybe 1 or more new dudes {wide player who actually scores goals and isn't made of glass, please}. Fortunately Arsene is on the right page, and he gets to decide not the lunatic fringe of the fan base.

One more bit about the irrational overreactionary Arsenal "fans", who have been bitching since things went south this season that Adebayor is shit, that he needs 1 chances to score, that he should be sold, etc, etc... You all can fuck off. He played the bulk of the season up front on his own, he runs his socks off in every match, his work rate is massive, he scores in big games, and he now has 30 goals and counting this season, which is 1 more than Fernando Torres of Liverpool, who everyone is creaming their pants over this season {and rightfully so}. Also, Adebayor didn't cost 26 million pounds like Torres- Arsene bought him for 3 million. So all you ignorant Adebayor haters, STFU for realz.

So ManUtd are in the Champions League Final in Moscow on May 21, which guarantees that for the first time ever the CL final will feature 2 English teams.

I'm forced to root for The Pool tomorrow, because ManUtd-Chel$ea would be unwatchable for me personally- the equivalent of Florida playing Georgia Tech in the national championship game.

Plus it will be more than interesting to see these two sets of fans, from the same area, who absolutely hate each other, travel by the thousands to another country for the match. Forget the area in Moscow around the stadium- at least there people have room to move away from any trouble. I'm thinking of all the flights from northern England to Moscow packed full of intermingled ManUtd and Liverpool fans, and the shenanigans that would ensue on these tiny flying tubes from which there is no escape until they are taxied at the gate. Sure to be some amazing stories if it goes down like that.

90 Minutes From Moscow

Manchester United 0-0 Barcelona
11.45 a.m. PST, ESPN2

Last week SAF discarded ManUtd's usual attacking style and played defensively, conceding 70% possession while deploying an unseen before {at least by me} formation with winger C Ronaldo up front by himself and Rooneh and Tevez wide on the wings in kind of a 4-5-1. Tevez and Rooneh were invisible, it didn't really work, but Barcelona failed to capitalize and so it all comes down to today as they start 0-0. Rooneh and Vidic are both very questionable and it sounds like neither will play. You would think that SAF needs to play 4-4-2 to win, but we'll see- he is known to pick strange teams in the last few years, but has enough talent that they often win despite this. If he picks Scholes and/or Giggs today, then he puts his team in a hole from the first minute, as both seem quite slow and past it.

If Barcelona can score an away goal then ManUtd will need 2 to win. I have a hunch that they will find the net, and not just because I am rooting for them to do so. I just have a hunch that Messi is going to have a moment of magic and either score or set up Eto'o. We'll see.

Hopefully this game opens up and blossoms into the exciting, high-scoring shootout of a game that many are expecting, especially as we sure won't see anything like that tomorrow in all likelihood.

Here's hoping for 0-3 to Barca with C Ronaldo missing penalties, diving, flopping, and whining like a little bitch just like he did last week- that was schadenfreude at its best.

Chel$ea 1-1 Liverpool
11.45 a.m. PST, ESPN2

The Pool must score a goal at Stamford Bridge, something they have not accomplished in their previous 8 visits to Chel$ea {never scored away to Chel$ea under Rafa Benitez}. Chel$ea get Essien back, who I long have felt is their best player, and he could be the difference in the match. Hard to see more than a goal or two at most in this game.

Again, as I said before the first leg, I have a hunch that Chel$ea are going to edge the Pool this year, but as I also said picking against The Pool in the Champions League is usually folly. I'm just hoping that it's a good game for the neutral observers, although from what I know, it won't be.

The Champions League Final is in Moscow on Wednesday May 21.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Feel Good Friday: SambaDa Edition

Last weekend I saw the self described brasilian/afro/samba/funk band SambaDa perform for the second time, at the DeYoung art museum of all places. They are local in that they were formed in Santa Cruz, but all of the members are Brasilians so I guess they aren't very local after all. The first time I saw then was at the famous Fillmore when they opened for Ozomatli, and they were amazing and really high energy; I figured they would be toned down considerably considering the venue. I was wrong- they were super high energy and totally rocked it again.

Anyhow, they are amazing, especially at live performance, where they intermittently get down off the stage and dance with the crowd, capped off by an impromptu capoiera performance during their encore. Also, they play the musical equivalent of Total Football, with many members switching instruments throughout the show. Lots of percussion, which is great, the saxophone player is exceptional can can flat out wail, and the lead female singer has a strong and very beautiful voice as well.

Unfortunately there are not any really good videos of them on the YouTubes, so the best thing is to go to their myspace page and listen to the songs in their jukebox {Beijo na Boca and Sambada Batucada are my favorites}. Here's a couple of videos that give a small taste but do not at all show how good this band is.

So crank up their music jukebox, get up out of your chair, shake your bunda and do a little impromptu freestyle samba dance. Home/work/whatever, you'll feel better afterwards. And if SambaDa comes to your town, then go see them for sure. Great music, high energy, and a fun time are guaranteed.

Bom dia!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Champions League Semifinal 1st Leg Part II

Liverpool 1-1 Chel$ea

I don't think I'd go so far as calling the match "entertaining", but it didn't max out its boring potential either.

Before halftime Liverpool took the lead when a Mascherano miskick fell to Kuyt who managed to scrap it between the keeper's legs. A classically crap Liverpool goal is what the cynics would say, but the scoreboard is not interested in such matters, only in cardinal numbers. Commenter Killing My Liver said it best: "Dirk Kuyt is the best no talent player ever."

Liverpool pretty much controlled the second half and played some pretty good stuff, especially in contrast to Chel$ea, who were a step below awful. Not that I watch all of their games, or even half of them for that matter, but I really don't know if I have ever seen a Chel$ea team play so poorly since Abromovich bought the club 4 or 5 years ago. I also must note that Drogba reverted back to his old form when all he would do is dive and whine, both to the point of absurdity. I wonder would win in a dive/whine-off between him, C Ronaldo, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy if each were on their best form.

And that was that. The 5 minutes of extra time were being played out, and all of Anfield were singing at the top of their lungs, when in the final minute an innocuous cross was played in and 1) Reina stayed on his line when many keepers would have taken 2 steps out and collected the ball and 2) Pool defender Riise, a strongly left footed player whose right foot is never used for soccer but only to stand on, declined the easy option of booting it out with his right foot and decided to try to clear the ball with a diving header. Instead he slotted a beautiful diving header past his own keeper for an own goal on literally the final touch of the match.

Heartbreak for The Pool, as 1) Chel$ea did not deserve to get anything from that match, and even a 0-1 loss would have flattered them a bit 2) now Chel$ea have the crucial away goal, so 0-0 at home and they win.

Some crazy stats that I've come across in the last 24 hours:

1. Yesterday was Liverpool's 9th European semifinal leg at Anfield, and they had never conceded a goal until that last second blunder yesterday. That is flat out amazing, and technically another team has still not scored on them. Remarkable considering the magnitude and assumed quality of the competition of such games.

2. Liverpool must now go to Stamford Bridge next week and score a goal to have any chance {1-0 gets them a win, 1-1 would get them extra time and perhaps penalties}. Sounds pretty simple, right? Liverpool have scored a grand total of zero goals in their last 8 trips to Stamford Bridge.

Barcelona-Manchester United
11.45 a.m. ESPN2

In contrast to yesterday's matchup, both of these teams play attacking soccer and always try to score goals, so there's potential for this tie to live up to it's matchup of the season hype.

Barca have been the strangest team this year. On paper, they should win every game that they play in, given their insane collection of talent. But like Real Madrid's galacticos before them, it doesn't quite work out that way when they get off the paper and onto the field. They have been team turmoil this season {a very interesting read} and so it's hard to predict what might happen in this tie. Messi the wunderkind savior is back, but now Henry is injured, and talismanic capitan Puyol is suspended for card accumulation.

Their league challenge is dead, so this is all they have left to play for, making one think that they could band together and rise to the occasion. On the other hand, they could also stutter. I only know that the Camp Nou and it's 100,000 seats will be rocking tonight. The night I was there for a league match against Getafe 2 years ago there were maybe 65,000 - 70,000 people there, and it was still loud and an incredible atmosphere- I can't imagine what it would be like with a sold out and hyped up crowd.

ManUtd are favorites but have been a tad wobbly of late, and in the last round Roma outplayed them in Rome but ManUtd got the 2 goals. There's a chance for Barca to do the business but they will have to capitalize on any opportunities they get. Maybe C Ronaldo and Deco {if he sees the field} can have a diving contest of their own {although Deco interestingly seems to dive like Greg Louganis for his country but not so much for his club}.

Obviously this Arsenal fan is pulling for Barca in a major way.


Barcelona 0-0 Manchester United
Even though this match had no goals to yesterday's 2, this one was, as predicted, much easier on the eyes.

The game opened with Barca conceding a penalty when Milito went all bump-set-spike in the 2nd minute. C Ronaldo stepped up to take the kick and tried to place the ball instead of shooting it {similar to baseball when they talk of pitchers aiming the ball instead of throwing it}, and it crashed off the bar. Very embarrassing for CR7, so of course I loved it.

The rest of the match Barca dominated, and as many chances as they created most were half-chances or not great chances, and they managed to not cash any of them in. They outshot ManUtd 20-7, shots on goal were 6-1, corners were 8-3 and possession was an astonishing 73%-27%. Rooneh and Tevez were completely invisible and both were substituted. Their only offense was Ronaldo, who seemed to be trying more to dive and draw another penalty kick for himself rather than score. Yesterday I said that Drogba was really bad about the diving and whining and gesticulating and complaining, but holy shit, CR7 was amazingly even worse today. All he did was dive, throw his arms up, complain, and yell at the officials, even on plays where he pushed a dude in the back to the ground, then fell to ground himself, then appealed for a foul, then complained and sulked like a 5 year old when he was rightly called for a foul. Granted he was fouled a few times during the match, but many more times his dives and whining was beyond pathetic, especially for such a talented player. I don't care if he scores 100 goals a season- I will never respect him because he is such a whiny little bitch, and a cheater and a diver to boot. I haven't been so happy to see a missed penalty since RVN's smash off the crossbar after Forlan's dive in the 2004 ManUtd-Arsenal 0-0 at Old Trafford.

So missed opportunity to gain a big advantage for Barca, but most importantly they did not concede an away goal, so they go to Old Trafford next week knowing that any scoring draw will see them through, and that if they can score 1 goal them ManUtd will need to score two.

Other observations:

Paul scholes is past it, and Fergie should have picked Anderson {unless he wasn't fit, but he was on the bench so I assume he was fit}. Does he feel obligated/indebted to play his longtime loyal guy in the remaining huge matches because Scholes missed the 1999 CL final due to card accumulation suspension?

Been meaning to write this all spring, but Tommy Smyth is completely past it and is basically a senile old man. Sad because he seemed to really be good and sharp 5-10 years ago. First the Hleb/Kuyt penalty clearly wasn't according to him, then the Toure/Babel one clearly was, then tonight the Ronaldo dive at the side edge of the box after being tackled was. This in addition to a bunch of other lunatic shit that he says these days. His "commentary" has become more of a disservice to the viewer than an aide. I suppose you knew he was past it a few years ago when he caved to whatever Disney exec who surely insisted that he sign off with "I'm Tommy Smyth with a yyyyyyyyyyy..." Should have known at that point that he had lost it.

Whether or not Messi was fully fit today, he was by far the best player on the park, and subbing him after 60 minutes when he didn't appear to be tired or hurt at all was really strange. Sad for him, as he signaled over to the bench more than once that he was fine and wanted to keep playing, only to be taken off.

Can't believe I have never written this here in 2+ years, because I think it every time I see Barca play, but you'd have to go a long way to convince me that Xavi doesn't wear makeup.

Return legs are next week: ManUtd-Barcelona on Tuesday, Chel$ea-Liverpool on Wednesday, both on ESPN2 at 11.45 a.m. PST.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Champions League Semifinal 1st Leg Preview

11.45 a.m. PST, ESPN2

Barcelona-Manchester United
11.45 a.m. PST, ESPN2

I was going to write a detailed piece on this game, but I fell asleep just thinking about it. The boring potential here is off the charts. In their six previous Champions League contests, there have been a grand total of three goals, with 3 of the 6 being 0-0 draws and the other 3 being 1-0 affairs. Liverpool beat Chel$ea at this very semifinal stage last year as well as in 2005, and as such are shooting for their third final in 4 years, which is supremely bizarre considering their lackluster form in the EPL over the same period, where they have not seriously competed for a league title in quite some time.

But perhaps this year there is some hope in the form of Liverpool's Fernando Torres. In his first year at Liverpool the 29 goal scorer has been on fire all spring, and could provide a moment of magic. For us neutral fans, he is the Obi Wan Kanobie to our Princess Leia- hopefully someone sitting in a desert dome hut fiddling with a robot will see our holographic plea for help:

"You're our only hope, Fernando..."

Actually that's not entirely true. Both teams are capable of scoring goals but spend much of their energy instead on preventing the other from scoring, leaving any non neutral with some extremely boring ass shit. Hard to think this year will be any different, but dare to dream I suppose.

Also, the first leg is at Anfield, whereas in the prior two meetings the second leg was at Anfield. Surely above all else Rafa will not want to concede an away goal to Chel$ea in the opening leg, so expect the worst and hope for the best.

The key injury is Essien being out for Chel$ea- in my opinion, their best player.

My hunch is that over two legs Chel$ea will finally beat Liverpool this time around, but betting against The Pool in the CL is not a path that wise men walk down, so we'll just wait and see.

More on Barca-ManUtd later or tomorrow...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Feel Good Friday: Stoopid Bonus

Since I didn't come with something new today, here's a little bonus for y'all.

Hadn't looked for Stoopid vids for a while, but there's now a vid with studio sound for one of their better tunes, "Closer To The Sun" from the album by the same name. Awesome acoustic guitar stringing by Myles.

Peace, and happy weekend.

"I think she beautiful, well that's for sure
Give a little loving, but I still gon need some more, I be
Stealing from the rich and then give it to the poor
Telling everybody it don't matter anymore, she said
All I really needed was a friend like you
Help me through and together we can change, but
If I was to stay it wasn't for too long
People sing the same song everywhere I'm going
Closer to the sun and far from the moon
People screaming out they gonna see me real soon, they say ooooh"

Feel Good Friday: Old Faithful

I don't care that I've used it a time or two before.

After a work week like this one, might as well go back to the tried and true, the one song that gets me from Stressville to Chill City faster than any other, "Mellow Mood" by Slightly Stoopid featuring G. Love and an awesome oceanside video with waves, surfing, dolphins, and the rest.

No song hits my tranquilo bone quite like this one, Bob Marley included

My favorite SS song, and maybe my favorite song in the whole wide world. Much needed on this Friday.

Have a great weekend whatever you get into. I hope to be back for the attack next week. Laters.

ASU-UGA: Wanna Get Away?

If you are answering the call and coming out for Arizona State-Georgia on September 20, and having trouble or suffering sticker shock on airfare, then be informed that Southwest is now selling Sept/Oct flights on their website {they only sell like 4 or 5 months into the future}.

Anyhow, just a heads up that you can now add this to your search arsenal. We just scored my sister a sweet direct flight from Sacramento that was +$120 cheaper than anything else out there.

Besides Southwest's site, is the best place I know of to find airfare.

So there it is.

Sorry for the break this week, crazy busy, visitors, work, blah, blah. I'll try to get back on the train here shortly. I find that blogging is like working out, when you get into a rhythm/pattern it's easy, but once you stop for a bit it's really tough to get back at it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Don't Expect The TW Miracle

Immelman -11
Snedeker -9
Flesch -8
Casey -7
Woods -5

Everyone is looking for a TW miracle win today, but I just can't see it happening.

- 16 of the last 17 years, the winner has come from the final group, Zach Johnson last year being the exception, and he started the final round only 2 shots behind

- Tiger has NEVER won a major coming from behind on the final day

- Tiger's biggest final round deficit overcome was 5, a few years back at Pebble Beach and included a hole out from the fairway and youngster Matt Gogel shitting the bed. Tiger may hole out today, but it is highly unlikely that all 4 dudes in front of him will shit the bed.

But the biggest reason is the weather, specifically the wind. It is swirling and gusting to 20-25 mph today, meaning the course will play so tough that it will look more like a US Open, with par being a good score and birdies scarce, and you will see more guys back up today than go forward. Shooting a low score today will be damn near impossible.

The only way Tiger can win is if everyone in front of him backs up due to the conditions and he miraculously shoots a 67 or 68 while the others shoot over par. Possible, but unlikely.

Basically, if Immelman and/or Snedeker shoot a decent round today and don't implode, one of them will be your winner. The course setup these days excludes fireworks and really low numbers- add in the swirling winds and a low number today is damn near impossible. Flesch and Casey have a chance, but realistically Tiger is too far back.

That being said, 12 years ago on Sunday I would have bet you my house, car, and every cent I owned that Greg Norman would not blow his 6 shot lead, so I suppose anything is possible. My point is simply that it is highly, highly unlikely.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Boo Weekley: A Golfer For People Who Dislike Golfers

Been meaning to write this for over a year, but now that he's -2 and tied for 20th going into the weekend, there's no better time than now...

Do you dislike golf and golfers because to you they all seem like spoiled, wealthy, country club kids with no personality?

Then Boo Weekley is the guy for you. Named after Yogi Bear's sidekick, a country boy from North Florida, he is the most refreshing thing to hit the golf world since John Daly {Jason Gore included}.

A PGA Tour professional who doesn't know anything about the Ryder Cup, is not at all aware of golf history, records, and who admittedly loves huntin' n' fishin' much more than being a professional golfer, to the point where he would rather be at home fishin' than shooting 64 in the 3rd round of a major to put himself into contention while barely missing a tie for the best round in the history of all four majors. No, really:

"Naw, I mean I had a good day and it was fun... but what would
be even funner if I'm sitting at the house catchin' about a 10 pounder."

See? I knew you'd dig him.

How about that 1) he's been a PGA Tour professional for 4 years now but still lives in a trailer, and that he didn't even know what week The Masters was even after he qualified for it and was figuring out his playing schedule- check out his recent interview with Jeff Rude:

Here's an interview he did at the tour championship last year, where he rocked a Cleveland Golf camo hat.

And here is a great longer piece on him, his background, through his own words and those of his family:

"Out here in this golf, you know, you gotta show a little etiquittacy."

Don't be fooled, the fact that he did that interview means that he was in the top 30 on the money list last year, so dude can flat out golf his ball. He won the event in Hilton Head last year, and will be defending that title next week {I think it's called the Verizon Heritage these days}, and he is one of the best young players around.

Again, a massive breath of fresh air in the stodgy and often boring drone life of the PGA Tour, and a kind, honest, friendly, humble, modest, and simple man that anyone can get behind and root for, from serious golf fans to casual ones to people who don't even like golf.

Boo is -2 going into today at The Masters {tied for 20th}. There's lots of dudes that I would like to see win this week, but none moreso than him.

Oh, and for a country boy from North Florida who loves huntin' n fishin' more than golf, he can do a little pimpin' as well.

Boo on Thursday

Boo on Friday

Friday, April 11, 2008

Masters Day 2: Pimpin' On The Rise

The biggest theme was once again white pants; at this point that is looking like the fashion trend for Masters 2008. Even 2 time champion Tom Watson got in on the act:

Sadly he finished at +6 and will not be playing on the weekend.

Gary Player finished last at +17, but he did finish up par/par to shoot 78. Why is this important? He had said after shooting 83 in the first round that if he didn't break 80 on Friday then we would not come back and play his 52nd Masters next year. So thanks to his 78, hopefully he will be back for another go next year.

Thank you, GP. Hope to see you next year.

Oh, he also went full-on Wimbledon yesterday and rocked an all white outfit. After a career of wearing all black and acquiring the name "The Black Knight" this was interesting, along the lines of Gandalf The White. He also rocked the completely old school shoes with the flap over the laces. If you haven't figured out by now, I love this guy and he is my favorite of the legendary Big 3 of the 60s {Palmer, Nicklaus, Player}.

Retro shoes make the outfit. King of all-time
pimps GP knows it's the little touches that matter

The cut was not kind to other well and/or funky dressed men, among them:

Rory Sabbatini, who came extremely strong yesterday with a red shirt, white pants with red trim, a red belt, and a giant silver SKULL BELT BUCKLE. No really.

100% awesome, esp. in the hallowed halls of Augusta National.

Two time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, who looked like the sharpest dressed Wyoming Cowboys fan you'll ever see.

You'll have to trust me that the brown shoes were tight,and if he
went with a hat to match those pants he would be El Rai de Laramie for sure.

Speaking of cowboys, Shingo missed the cut as well, so only 2 wacky but somehow pimpin' Japanese cowboy outfits this year instead of four.

Happy trails, Shingo.

U.S. Amateur champion and Virginia Tech student Drew Weaver came with it yesterday, rocking a sweet argyle sweater as part of a slick black & white ensemble:

Pretty strong for an amateur

The cut line was especially cruel to those at +4, as the cut looked to be at +4 all day but then finished up at +3, with several prominent +4's left on the outside looking in.

Sergio Garcia, who did much, much better on his outfit but as you can see here is sad to be missing the weekend, and it's increased pimpin' opportunities.

Tu ropa son mejor hoy, Sergio, pero adios mi amigo.

Luke Donald, also at +4, proved once again that you can actually pimp pretty hard even when yo handicap yourself by wearing a dorky ass golf visor.

Yesterday's newcomer Toru Tanaguchi came very weak yesterday, and missed the cut by 1 shot. After such a promising, close but no cigar start, surely a more bold attempt at pimpn' would have saved a stroke somewhere out there.

Aussie Aaron Baddeley also just missed at +4, which absolutely sucks because he wore the sweetest pants of the day yesterday- white with green pseudo plaid. Awesome. Sad that his Saturday and Sunday outfits will stay in the suitcase.

I want these.

Also, it is very sad that longtime fan favorite Fred Couples, who was looking to break Gary Players record for consecutive cuts made {23 I think} missed breaking the record in the end by a single shot, as he also finished at +4.

So who's left?

Well, leader Trevor Immelman, like Gary Player a smaller dude from South Africa, is your clubhouse leader and did ok yesterday, rocking the ever more ubiquitous white pants himself:

Ian Poulter is in 3rd place at -5, and backed up his lime green solid effort on Saturday with a pink & white ensemble on Friday.

Defending champ will not go quietly into that goodnight.

It sounds counterintuitive, but it takes a man to pull off pink pants, belt, and shoes, but he did it. At this point I think he's rocking the visor just to give everyone else a chance: if he had gone with the pimp hats again this year he'd pretty much already have it sewed up again.

Steven Ames is at -4 and also showed that he isn't afraid to rock a little pink, although {not surprisiingly} he was nowhere in Poulter's league.

England's Nick Dougherty was even stronger than yesterday. Check out this shirt:

He could be a surprise contender on the weekend.

I also must mention Adam Scott's pants yesterday, a subtle plaid print that was sweet as hell. These plus Baddeley's green & white's and I'd be muy contento.

Nice pants, mate.

Finally, a sad word of caution. Although I appreciate the effort, Bubba Watson simply went too far in his efforts yesterday. I applaud the white shirt, pink pants, white shoes foundation, but although visors are not so good, they can be pulled off {Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, etc}. On the other hand, neon green visors are never a good idea, nor is the neon green belt with dark pink {salmon} pants. Poulter & Ames proved that pink can be done and done well; w white belt and plain white visor would have been serious pimpin', but this insistence on neon lime green turned into a total disaster.

Ouch: a fashion Icarus that flew too close to the sun.

Again, I appreciate the boldness to think outside the box, just need to rethink outside the box bubba.

Usually pimpin' subsides a bit on the weekend as 1) the field is basically cut in half 2) the golf goes from serious to super serious. Hopefully we'll have a few standouts to get us through.

I only saw some of ESPN's coverage over the first two days, so I can't fully comment on it {until this year the first two rounds were on the old USA network but the production was still by CBS golf}. I can say that, not surprisingly, they abandoned CBS golf production's philosophy of showing golf only as much as possible: shot, shot, shot, shot, shot, shot, shot, shot: as much live golf as possible, unlike NBC who turns their golf broadcasts into the Olympics with canned human interest story features in the middle of the golf, which may be interesting to casual fans but is highly irritating to hardcore golf fans. ESPN showed lots of non live golf action- interviews, talking heads, and canned human interest story features as well from the little I saw. Obviously, I'm 1) not surprised and 2) very much looking forward to the fact that Saturday & Sunday are back on CBS.

One final note on the new & improved They really stepped it up this year, with live video feeds both of amen corner {11, 12, 13} and the 15th & 16th holes. The quality of the video is amazing, and 16:9 to boot. I have a crappy monitor at work and it looked like HD. I can say that is is easily the best streaming feed of any sporting event that I have ever seen on a computer, the quality was that good. If you are stuck at work this weekend then definitely check it out.

Here's hoping for good golf and good pimpin' through the weekend. Enjoy.

Masters Day 1: Moderate Pimpin', But Nothing Spectacular. Yet. Hopefully.

If last year was a bit disappointing because inaugural Dodgy At Best 2006 Pimp Of The Masters Darren Clarke shot 83 on the first day and didn't make the cut, then this year is even more dire as he isn't even in the field at all. Niclas Fasth did a watered down homage to Clarkey's 2006 winning getup however, rocking a light-lavender outfit.

Poor man's version of D Clarke back on 2006.

That leaves 2007 Pimp Of The Masters Ian Poulter the favorite, and yesterday he opened his title defense pretty well with a nice white lounge lizard shirt with lime green trim, lime green pants, belt, shoes, and visor. The visor's a little soft, and certainly cannot compete with last year's collection of pimp hats, but all in all a solid effort on day 1 of his title defense. He has clearly established himself as the player to beat this year, as if there were any doubts before the tournament got underway.

IP: even with a visor {-1}, still favored to defend title

Oh, in addition, Gooner Ian got over the depression of Arsenal's dubious exit fromt he Champions League with a hole in one at the famous 16th hole, the 5th hole in one on 16 in Masters history, and interestingly the 4th in the last 4 years:

Among the chasers there was some moderate pimpin' but nothing spectacular. The major themes of the day seemed to be 1) white pants 2) all black or 3) white & green. A good dozen or so dudes rocked the white pants, some with the accompanying white belt as well.

Stephen Ames: one white shirt from all white awesomeness

Carmello Villejas and Lee Westwood even went a bit Wimbledon and went {mostly} all white.

Black hat/white shirt/black belt/white pants:
it pains me to say it, but the Gator {Villejas} came strong with it.

Both Phil Mickleson and Justin Rose went for modified versions of an all black kit, but neither of them quite pulled it off. I don't think they'll be too bothered, Justin Rose shares the lead at -4 and Phil shot a nice 1 under 71.

The white/black combo was best pulled off by Andres Romero, who came with this:

Romero: one to watch for sure.

I never saw his shoes, but with the right ones, like say some Gary Player black & white specials, this could have been really special. One to keep you eye on as the week progresses.

The other major theme was white and green, either green shirt/white pants or vicey versey.

Aaron Baddeley: white hat, white shirt, white belt, green pants, white shoes

Paul Casey: white hat, green shirt, white belt, white pants, green shoes

Nick Dougherty: white visor {-1}, white shirt, green belt, green pants, white shoes

Luke Donald: white visor {-1}, white shirt, white belt, green pants, white shoes

Speaking of Gary Player, respect must be paid to the man appearing in his record 51st Masters. He has been pimpin' hard for more than 5 decades, and yesterday went with an all gray outfit that was pretty average for him, but those classic Gary Player shoes put him solidly in big pimpin' territory.

GP: at age 72, playing in his 51st Masters,
he's pimpin' strong into his 6th decade at Augusta. Bow Down.

And speaking of classics, T Woods showed yet again that damn near every day he looks clean and sharp, and he gets the all important concept of matching your shoes/belt/hat with the same color.

Just like with his golf, dude always brings it.

On the other hand, newcomer Toru Taniguchi came out pretty strong, but his failure to master the aforementioned shoes/belt/hat combo left him just short. A good first effort, and a newcomer to watch for sure, but the black shoes, white belt, black hat combo left him so close but still no cigar. The red pants/pink shirt is strong though. If he can tighten up his game he could come out of nowhere to surprise.

One black belt {or white shoes & hat} from Pimp Of The Day.

Adam Scott got the hat/belt/shoes {they were white too} combo correct as well, and looked casually sharp as always

Adam Scott reflects on his position on the fashion & golf leaderboards

Obligatory Shingo shot, who went all black with the exception of a powder blue shirt. Good as always.

Shingo: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Too bad Sergio doesn't read this blog, as last year I expressly told him that orange and gray don't match. He went with it again, and admittedly it is a bit better, but still a swing and a miss- although the bright orange alligator skin belt on it's own is STRONG. Improved color coordination is his only chance at making a serious run at this.

The belt is sweet, and it's a bit better,
but we talked about this last year, Sergio.

Oh, the golf tournament? More US Open non excitement overall. Perfect warm weather, no wind, course conditions described as "benign" by many, and yet only 3 eagles all day, one of which was IP's hole in one on 16. Outside of that, Tiger's chip in for eagle from behind the 15th green, and Phil's pinseeker from behind the 1st green, there wasn't a whole lot.

Keep up with day 2 at the official Masters site, with lots of live coverage that is much more interesting that whatever work you have to do in your office today.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

SF: Clusterfuck Champions Of The Universe Ride Again

If anyone is still intersted, you can follow all of the post-farce finger-pointing and blame assigning here.

So there wasn't anything for me to go see after all, as the impromptu, on the fly, last minute changes saw the torch go out towards the bridge then high tail it down to the airport and get the hell out of town, leaving me as well as about 10,000 others with nothing to see after all.

What a joke.

No biggie for me, as I just watched on local TV with their coverage and helicopter cams, waiting to see if they would indeed come back to the planned finishing ceremony location by the Ferry Bldg. It never happened, I stayed near work, no biggie. Hell, I've seen the torch before, as up close and personal as you can get, but it would have been awesome to walk down and see the spectacle of the mass protest first hand. But I really and truly feel sorry for the thousands of people who came out to see the torch. Many people flew here from all around the US and brought their kids just to see the torch, and they got royally shafted by our wanna-be superhero doofus mayor and his massive ego.

I basically agree with everything said here about yesterday's fiasco.

Basically the Free Tibet folks succeeded in bringing lots of attention to their cause, and basically scaring the mayor and the event out of town. And the mayor was a fool {as usual} as well- if they were going to run away like pussies then they should have just canceled the whole thing, not told 10,000 people that they were going to do it and then run away scared because they didn't plan properly to have enough police on the scene.

An embarrassment for SF: certainly not the first, and won't be the last. I'm sure Hannity, O'Really?, Rush et al all had massive erections yesterday that will probably stay good and hard for the rest of the week. And John Stewart writers and the staff at The Onion as well, although theirs will most likely soften and they'll move on after a day of well deserved snark.

Good luck, Buenos Aires, the hot potato is now in your hands.

Lastly, why give a flying fuck about the Olympic Torch relay at all?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It's Masters Week; I Must Be Two

So The Golf Channel is once again talking about something I first brought up two years ago and then again last year, and want to emphasize again because I feel like I spotted it pretty quickly, was on the leading edge of the realization: that The Masters is much more boring now, much less exciting, has lost it's essence, and is now a pseudo US Open.

Then I realized, holy shit! It's Masters week. This means that Dodgy At Best is officially 2 years old- last Sunday to be exact.

Circa 1992-93 Kanu & Solon team up to show
you how old DAB is this week

So thanks to the tens of you that come around occasionally to read my incoherent ramblings and interact in the comments section. I only wish I has more free time to post more, as for every post that makes it here there are literally 5-10 good ideas that die somewhere along the process, usually an idea who never receives enough oxygen {in the form of free time to sit down and write it all out, cross reference links, fact check, etc,} and dies before it gets to the internets.

One good thing: over the next 4 days there will be some serious pimpin' goin' down.

SF To Be In Next Nike Ad: "Our Protest Is Better Than Your Protest"

Follow all the Olympic torch relay shenanigans at SFGate and local CBS today.

Considering what happened in London and Paris in the last few days, SF knows that is has to step up its game. Hell, protesters in Paris forced the authorities to extinguish the flame, get on a bus, and drive the rest of the route to the finish. FRANCE did that. So SF needs to step up, and all indications are that they are up to the challenge.

Saturday, 4 days out:
Human Rights Torch Relay through SF
protest in downtown SF draws a few hundred people

Monday, 3 days out:
dudes sneak out onto the Golden Gate Bridge with all their gear concealed in baby carriages, climb up the support wires of the Golden Gate Bridge, and hand two massive banners on the bridge itself before finally being forced down and arrested.

Tuesday, 1 day out:
Olympic Flame is flown into SF at 4 a.m.

IOC considers stopping the torch relay

1,000 - 2,000 protest at UN Plaza, City Hall, shut down streets, etc.

Tuesday night:
Candlelight vigil at UN Plaza draws several thousand, Archbishop Desmond Tutu {and Richard Gere!!!} speaks

Today the relay was supposed to start at 1 p.m. PST. It didn't, rumors are swirling. SFPD has confirmed that the route will be shortened from 6 miles to 3 miles, and that runners will hold the torch in pairs. But no routes have been announced, and no one knows where the torch is or where it will be going, as thousands of fans and protesters line the now old route.

In the last 10 minutes differing local news reports have 1) the torch being put on a boat at McCovery Cove and driven via water to the final site at Justin Herman Plaza, bypassing the route altogether 2) the torch has been moved to a warehouse near Pier 48 and that some new but unknown route is going to happen.

So thousands of people are in the streets, tons of helicopters are overhead, all the local news stations are in full OJ coverage mode, we're an hour in and nothing has happened, and no one has any idea what is going on or where the torch is or may or may not go.

A classically wacky SF day, where we will turn this into an enormous clusterfuck and the world can sit back and roll their eyes and laugh at our silly wackiness.

You can keep up with the circus with live craptastic local SF news coverage here.

I'm going down to the Ferry Bldg/Embarcadero in a little bit to soak it all in a bit.

More later...

You're Once... Twice... Three Times, A Blown Lead...

6 minutes from the CL semifinal was agonizing, needed a minute to collect my thoughts...

Liverpool 4-2 Arsenal
0-1 Diaby 13'
1-1 Hyypia 30'
2-1 Torres 69'
2-2 Adebayor 84'
3-2 Gerrard PK 85'
4-2 Babel 90'

Multi-language highlights over a Justin Timberlake track:

Highlights from last week's 1-1 first leg {sorry, no JT}:

Liverpool advance 5-3 on aggregate

Alot of my thoughts on the match are in the comments section of the previous post, but in no particular order:

- First off, there are a bunch of Liverpool fans that hang out around here, so I want to begin by offering my congratulations to you all. I don't think it's too harsh to call Liverpool a somewhat limited side, but yet again, for the umpteenth time, something Pavlovian happened when the Champions League anthem was played, and per usual they somehow found a way to grind out a result and get the job done. It's uncanny, and there's not much more to say other than when it comes to the Champions League, The Pool be on that kryptonite, straight up on that kryptonite, Pool be on that, straight up on that, Pool be on that kryptonite.

- Secondly, respek to Stevie G for his classy post game comments {I can't ever imagine a ManUtd or Chel$ea player saying this}:

“Arsenal are a fantastic team. At times they passed us off the pitch. That was possibly one of the worst performances I’ve ever put in in a Liverpool shirt.”

More on that last sentence in a bit.

- Or right now. The key moment in the match for me was when Flamini went off after 30 minutes and was replaced with Gilberto, who these days is sadly a total shell of his former self. Flamini has been an amazing defensive midfielder all year, and after bossing EPL midfields and then completely neutralizing world player of the year Kaka over two legs against Milan, he did the same to Stevie G in the first leg as well as the first 30 minutes of the match yesterday. As a result Arsenal dominated the midfield in both instances, enjoyed the lion's share of the possession, and prevented Liverpool from looking functional at all. When he went off and Gilberto came on, the whole dynamic of the match changed and now it was Liverpool who controlled the midfield, kept much more possession, and was able to get into comfortable and dangerous offensive rythms time and again. It's stunning how far Gilberto has fallen, and especially sad since he is such a great guy. Anyhow, this subtle change in the game was huge over the last 60 minutes, and Arsene needs to sack up and pay Flamini whatever he wants- dude is only 24, runs his ass off, is a hard nut, and plays with controlled fire and passion- basically a French Gattuso. Sign him up long term please, Arsenal are a much worse side with him out, as was proven quite dramatically yesterday.

-I was wrong in my prediction for the match- it was Arsenal who came out blazing and completely dominated the match from the off, while Liverpool bunkered down and tried to survive. Diaby's goal on 13 minutes meant that Liverpool had to come out and play, and they did. I must also credit Rafa/Liverpool for playing to win when 2-1 up instead of playing 10 men behind the ball, although I feel a part of that was that Liverpool were controlling the midfield and match due to the Flamini/Gilberto thing described above. Still, Rafa went for it instead of closing up shop like the tactical pussy {but shrewd pussy} that he often is, so credit where credit is due.

-For 3-4 months now Solon and I have been commiserating weekly on the phone about how it is just stunning that Eboue plays in front of Walcott, and how stunning it is how terrible and completely useless Eboue has been this year. For fuck's sake, Eboue has contributed 0 goals and 1 assist from the right wing all season, and specializes in giving the ball away {when he is not diving}. Walcott is still young, raw, and not the finished article, but he is an infinitely better option than Eboue on the right and in his limited appearances this year has contributed 5 goals and 4 assists. The contrast yesterday between Eboue's 70 mintes and Theo's 20 was again stunning, and after Theo's great performance highlighted by that amazing 80 yard end to end run and set up on the looked like tie winning goal on the world's biggest stage, we're basically at the point now that if Eboue starts over Theo this weekend against Manchester United then the only logical explanation is that all those disgusting ManUtd/Spurs/Chel$ea fans are right, that Arsene Wenger is in fact a pedophile, and that Eboue has the proof and is using it as ransom in exchange for his starting place.

- Also, could we have a new rule whereby Phillipe Senderos can play against Fulham, Wigan, Boro, Spurs, and basically anyone else except the top 4? He is a good defender but against world class strikers he is simply out of his depth. The "marking" on the Hyypia goal was shambolic, and although many are giving him a pass of the Torres goal, noting how great Torres is and there's not much many defenders could have done against that, look at it again and tell me why oh why, when Torres has the ball in your penalty area, would you play 3 yards off him and give him the space to turn and shoot with absolute ease? New rule: if Drogba or Torres or Rooneh is on the teamsheet, Senderos sits. It's that simple.

-I guess we should talk about the penalties. I think I'm somewhere between Myles and Arseblogger. The one yesterday was super soft and tough to take considering KT didn't push or really foul Babel, it was more clumsy and they just got a bit tangled up, but we've all seen penalties given for such things and less {although we've also seen yesterday's incident, and worse, not given as well}. On the other hand, you don't make contact with a player in the box in the last 5 minutes of a CL elimination match, especially not on a Liverpool player at Anfield in front of the Kop, and expect a penalty to not be given. As Myles said, if your man beats you in that situation, you let him go by and make him then beat your keeper. Also, part of the whole setup was Arsenal's defense still celebrating Adebayor's goal and not shifting from potential tie-winning euphoria back to concentrating on the task at hand and being ready to refocus when the ball is put back into play.

I can live with the penalty being given yesterday, but when taken together with the beyond horrible no call last week when Kuty clearly arm-tackled Hleb in the box and it was not given, even though the referee was 5 feet in front of the play looking right at it, is just a massive kick in the balls. Whether or not the fact that last week's referee was from the same hometown in Holland as Kuyt is relevant or not doesn't matter: it was 10x more a penalty than Toure's awkward pseudo-collision with Babel, so taken together that is a very bitter pill to swallow. Right after it happened I reflected on something I wrote after last week's match:

But that penalty no call will still haunt me next week when Liverpool 1) hold out for a 0-0 or 2) win on a fluky goal.

And I feel like the penalty qualified under #2 above.

- That being said, shit, these things happen, that's the way the cookie crumbles, etc, etc. And it's not like Arsenal didn't have a whole bunch of opportunities to win the tie and make any dodgy last minute refereeing decisions completely moot, so the focus should be on that as much as the penalties. The total domination last week, Bendtner literally kicking out a ball that was 1 foot from rolling into the net {holy shit what a controversy that would have been if he didn't as he was judged, very late indeed, to be in an offsides position when Hyypia was standing on the goal line and another Liverpool player was behind the goal line altogether}, Adebayor's chance in the second half, and many, many more. Finally, as much as it pains me to say this, it's not a guarantee that if the penalty was rightfully given against Kuyt last week that Reina wouldn't have saved it. I think 75-85% of penalties are converted, so it was probably but not certain that it would have resulted in a goal {and of course then everything would have changed and the rest of the match would have been played differently, etc, etc, etc}

- And let's not forget also that Arsenal took the lead in this tie not once, not twice, but three times, and all together protected those 3 combined leads for a grand total of 22 minutes {4 min, 17 min, 1 min}. So I can totally see where whining about penalties would ring hollow with neutrals/opponents- looked at another way they have no one else but themselves to blame, whether they couldn't seem to catch a break or not.

- So that's that. Again, congratulations to Liverpool. The Champions League isn't a beauty contest, and it's not about playing the most attractive soccer, it's about results, and Liverpool got the result by showing almost their entire repertoire of the ways they can score: 1) set piece 2) hopefully punted route 1 longball to Torres and hope for a moment of magic {29 moments of magic in 40 matches sure seems worth $50 million now, eh?} 3) a penalty 4) a breakaway by a fresh and newly introduced Babel against an exhausted Fabregas after the other team has 10 men in The Pool's box trying to desperately get an equalizer. The only thing missing was a fluky deflection, or the occasional Stevie G rocket shot from outside the box. But again, it worked, they got the result, and they move on, and also once again Arsenal played beautiful stuff, creted numerous chances, and converted exactly 1 less than they needed to win. In that regard this 2 legged tie was a perfect microcosm of both teams.

- I have been trying to get to Zen place about this for nearly 24 hours, and I think I finally have by realizing that I would much rather lose to Liverpool in the CL quarterfinals than win only to lose to Chel$ea in the CL semifinals- that would be 10x worse.

-So congratulations again to The Pool and best of luck against Chel$ea- I'm sure that when 2 weeks rolls around I will be pulling hard for the Reds against the Blue$, and ditto if it's The Pool-ManUtd in the final. Hopefully Barca will win the whole damn thing, or at least Barca and Liverpool can do something to stop the worst potential CL matchup of all time for an Arsenal fan: Chle$ea- ManUtd. I'm not sure I'd watch that, as literally I would not know what to do- what to root for, if I would want every pass to be completed or intercepted, etc- it would truly be dividing by zero for my brain.

So Come On The Pool! and Forca Barca!