Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2012 Mid-Summer Classic Live Blog

I'm gonna be live blogging this here game of All Star baseball players playing baseball. I've never done this for a baseball game, so I'm not quite sure how it'll go. If it seems like I've dropped dead after the 6th inning, don't be alarmed, I just quit. Hopefully this thing doesn't take 4 hours. On the bright side, I took a good nap after work, so I should be about 1 cup of coffee away from surviving this thing.

It should be interesting to see how I fill the time between pitches. Rick Reilly (the worst sports writer of our time, albeit the most popular) did an article about this a few weeks ago. I can't seem to find it so I can use the technology available at my fingertips and give a link, but to sum it up-- Baseball is boring to watch on TV. I don't really agree, I think Ol' Rick just doesn't like baseball. But I digress...

Hopefully this thing is as fun to write as it will be to read. And, oh, it will be fun to read. I don't care if I have to start making stuff up. If you read that Derek Jeter made an excellent defensive play, or Adam Jones hits a 6 run homer, that'd be me taking creative license. It's my blog, and I'm gonna do what I want.


Lot's of not so bold predictions. Mike Trout is good. Prince Fielder is good. AL is gonna win. Chipper Jones will get the MVP. Blah, blah, bl...Wait what? Chipper for MVP? I like it. Pulling a Cal Ripken Jr. and tearing it up in his last hurrah would be awesome.

Touching segment on the Negro Leagues. Apparently there was a day when black folks had their own league. It was nice of them to let the white guys play. I know it must've taken a lot of negotiating on the white man's part to parlay their way into the more competitive league.

So many montages. Whichever intern Fox had put these things together probably was grossly underpaid. Well done, kid.

One of the cool things about the All Star game is that every team gets a representative. This is supposed to make it so that everyone has at least some reason to tune in. The funny thing is, the Miami Marlins managed to not get someone in the game. Giancarlo "Don't Call Me Mike" Stanton needed surgery, so they put the coolest player in the world, Bryce Harper in. Did the Marlins get screwed? That's a clown question, bro. The funniest part is that the Cubs have 2 representatives, while the Marlins spent a billion dollars in the offseason and got none. Funny, the way things are.

For the record, the calmest, coolest person during announcing the rosters was the King Felix of Seattle. Just sayin...

There are no All Star Game trends on Twitter. What happened to the American past time?

Apparently they put some shirts on the seats at Kauffman Stadium. I'm wondering if this is the first color coordinated All Star game.

Did Luke Bryan just look down at the lyrics?

Jeeezzzuusss Tim McCarver is old. I wouldn't be surprised if he dies of heat stroke by the 5th inning.

Top 1st Inning
And we're off. Joe Buck seems to think this Verlander character is the best in the league. Something about winning both the Cy Young and MVP awards. Whatever, he's entitled to his opinion.

The first pitch to CarGo is a 97 MPH strike. Not a bad start. The third pitch of the game is a 98 MPH fastball up in the zone. CarGo swung REALLY hard, but forgot to hold on to the bat. That's an embarrassing strike. Next pitch is a breaking ball in the dirt that CarGo swings at for strike 3. I'd wanna get that at bat over with too. No shame, Carlos.

Melky Cabrera, the least likely human to start, that's actually starting, breaks up the no hitter on the first pitch he sees. Douche.

Ryan Braun, the reigning MVP, and reigning steroid allegations beater, aims a liner at an unsuspecting batchild. The bat child fled. Nothing to see here, folks. Nothing but the RBI double off the wall. Bautista also ran into the wall with the coordination of a fat kid. Melky hustled home with the speed of a fat kid, and prevented Braun from getting a three bagger.

Joey Votto is a monster. At hitting. I really like him. That is all. McCarver informs us that Votto has only pulled one foul ball into the stands in the last year. That, my friends, is useless information. A useful statistic would be the part where he struck out looking. To top it off, he walks back to the dugout with the walk of someone with Downe's Syndrome.

Carlos Beltran has come full circle. Not really, but he did start his career in Kansas City. Sucker. Beltran is the first guy to see a ball that is flung in his general direction at 100 MPH. Winner winner. Annnd he draws a walk.

Buster Posey has no facial hair. And has a stellar name. I don't know why he's starting an All Star game, but he's there. Let's enjoy what we can of him.

Pablo Sandoval, another gentleman who doesn't deserve to be batting in the first inning, is fat. I don't quite know what else to add about him. I'm not a fan of all the Giants in the game. But hey, he did just knock in 3 runs. Guess I'll eat my words.

Uggla's on my fantasy team. I better get points if he drives in Sandoval. Luckily, he hits it to the worst fielder in the league. There's stats to back that up.

Rafael Furcal does the right thing. He bounces out to second and ends the inning. It's like tee ball. Everyone bats once and the inning's over. This game better speed up, or I'm calling it quits after the third.

Bottom 1st Inning

Derek Jeter gets to lead off after showing his range in the field. Seriously, let's go back to that. Any decent shortstop gets to that ball before it's 20 feet deep in the outfield and saves a run. Just saying. He beats out a throw from a legit fielding shortstop. Lucky bastard.

Robinson Cano, who refused to wilt under the pressure of the home fans in the Home Run Derby, is going to be booed in KC for the rest of his life. Way to show that all Yankees are ass holes. Dick. Get a homer, though. The fans are now chanting, "Billy Butler! Billy Butler!" Royals fans have the liberty to cheer against Cano because home field advantage in the World Series is the least of KC's worries. They get their rocks off in the Derby, baby!

Josh Hamilton set a record for votes by the fans. That's nifty. And deserved. Joe Buck seems to think he might get the highest contract in the history of professional baseball. He deserves it. He can buy a lot of good drugs with that kind of cash. And maybe a tattoo removal. If that at bat is any indication, this man only has warning track power. Nothing to see here.

Jose Bautista is the #1 suspect on my steroid user list. I bet he flies out. Nope. Strikes out. Matt Cain showed Mr. MVerlanderP how to close out an inning.

Top 2nd Inning

Joe Nathan comes in to close it out. Wait, what? It's the second inning? Nifty.

CarGo manages to go 0-2 in the game. The rest of the lineup couldn't help but get on base. Nickname=NoGame.

Melky looks angry. I think it's the shape of his facial hair. Annnd he grounds out. Joe Buck makes a joke about his orange shoes needing to charge in the dugout. Classic, Joe.

Mr. Steroids pops up to right and allows Bautista to redeem himself with a nice sliding catch. Go eat some protein, Ryan!

Joe Nathan with the quick inning. My energy and love for baseball has been renewed. JOE FOR MVP!

Bottom 2nd Inning

Prince Fielder leads off, and flies out. So much for being the Home Run king. Poser.

Adrian Beltre was really good on the Dodgers. Really good on the Red Sox. Really good on the Rangers. And awful on the Mariners. Sandbaggin' summabitch deserved that pop up.

David Ortiz looks thin. I'm skeptical if it's really him. That inning was super quick. Matt Cain is my hero.

Top 3rd Inning

Daivd Price takes over. I like him a lot. I wear a Rays hat to work every single day. Now you know a little something about me.

Joey Votto chooses to get out by hitting to a human instead of striking out looking. Bold move, Joey. We'll see how it pays off.

Carlos Beltran goes up hacking. He's reading my blog and is trying to get this thing over. Much appreciated, Carlos, have a nice evening.

Buster "Don't Call Me Baby" Posey is up. I'm liking him more and more every time. He's like a baby. Wonder if he's ever shaved? Doubftul. But he did foul out. Moving on.

Bottom 3rd Inning

Tim McCarver's Twitter is hilarious. Clearly, he's one of them homosexuals. Lots of stuff about a secret crush on Derek Jeter. And Robby Cano's dreamy smile.

Mike Napoli squares up against Gio Gonzalez. I, for one, am not surprised to see Gio in this game. Seriously, check my preseason fantasy baseball notes. I'm not surprised. Anywho, Napoli did the thing where you miss 3 hittable balls and have to sit on the bench,

I wonder if Curtis Granderson knows he wouldn't be an All Star if he didn't play in New York. There's a reason you're batting 9th, my friend. We've been notified he wears high socks to represent the Negro Leagues. I think he flew out to honor Negro Leagues, too.

Here's that Jeter guy. I bet he manages to get lucky, somehow, some way. Reach on an error, a bad ball 4 call. Something. Nope. Just gets out like a normal overrated human.

Top 4th Inning

The Panda chooses not to hit a triple. But lets Matt Harrison make him fly out to center. Interesting choice.

Dan Uggla is clearly taking this at bat seriously. We got a fantasy title to work for. But, alas, he flies out. Useless.

The real All Star shortstop steps in and hopefully will do something better than Derek Jeter. Yup, double down the line. Nope, triple. I should type slower.

Look, another Cardinal. Matty Holliday is takin his turn to try to hit a baseball and knock in Furcal. I bet he's done that a time or two this year.

And another Giant. Melky and his angry beard is up. The dick head hits a home run. Jerk. END THIS GAME EARLY!!

Steroids boy is up. Do something awesome Harrison. Nope. Another triple. God. Damn. It. I quit. Nobody is watching this game, so sure as hell nobody is reading this blog.

Votto does the right thing and ends the inning.

Bottom 4th Inning

The Phenom Stephen Strausburg is on the bump against the Boo Machine. This should be a quick inning. Strausburg is lights out. Ughh. Finally the AL did something.

Pretty boy Josh Hamilton is up. And the AL dugout already has rally caps on. Embarrassing. That's the baseball way of waving the white flag. So is hitting into a double play. Smooth move, Josh.

Bautista's ears are big enough to hear the boos his team is getting. He also just spun out of the box. Strausburg's pitch didn't even come close to hitting him. That's some nasty spin on that stuff. But he draws a walk. No excitement and no progress towards ending the game. Die Jose.

Prince the Home Run King steps in to end the inning. Albeit Braun made a decent play out there in left. Moving on. Almost halfway done with the game. I'm not blogging past the 5th, though. I'm invoking a blogging mercy rule.

Top 5th Inning

Jared Weaver might have the best stuff in the American League. I'm not buying Verlander's stuff.

Bryce Harper is up with gold shoes on. This is the at bat I've been looking forward to the most. I am completely comfortable stopping this live blog after the 5th because I got to see this man hit. ANNND he walks. Good enough for me. Go Bryce! Steal second!

Buster Babyface flies out to left. Bryce Harper proves why I love him and old people hate him. He took second on a play that most guys wouldn't have even tried on. In the All Star game. Wow.

David Wright, the real best third basemen in the NL, steps in. Prove your worth, boy! Damn it. You made Bryce look dumb.

Uggla steps in to get me some fantasy points, I'm sure. Nope. But I'm now 3 outs from going to bed. I'm more excited about that than the rest of this game.

Bottom 5th Inning

So, so close to ending this snooze fest.

The reigning NL Cy Young baseball thrower Clayton Kershaw comes in and gets an out on his first pitch. It came at the expense of Mariner failure Adrian Beltre.

David Ortiz will attempt to be the savior of this AL squad. I predict failure. Nope, just a single.

Mike Napoli is one of the better power hitting catchers, but decided to strike out in his first try. Let's see if he chooses to do something different this time. Yup, an easy pop up. But Bryce Harper couldn't see it. At all. And it lands right behind him. Damn.

Curtis Granderson steps in. I think he knows how to get on base now. Put it in the sky and pray for blindness. Nope. He aims it into the dirt, right in front of the mound. Smooth move.

Assdribbler Cabrera, the true starting shortstop in the AL, pinch hits for Derek Jeter. Do something awesome. Make Jeter look bad. He got on base. Good enough.

Ian Kinsler is up for Boo Machine. He's a Jew. He wears high socks. He's one of my faves. He could either end my blogging night, or cut the lead in half. There is no in between. Yup. Fly out to my boy Bryce.

It's been real. It's not been exciting. I hope you laughed at least once. If not at me, at Bryce Harper losing a ball in the non-sun. Goodnight world.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A True Hall of Famer?

Clemens definitely did some curls for the girls
On this day in history-- literally this day, like, today-- Roger Clemens was acquitted of 6 counts of perjury. If I'm not mistaken, perjury would have gotten him beheaded on Game of Thrones, so I can only imagine how much prison time one would serve in Gitmo for 6 counts. Essentially, by not being found guilty of lying to Congress about his use of substances not recommended for professional baseballers by the FDA, it was the governments way of declaring that he didn't use steroids. In the eye of the legal system in the good ol' U.S. of A., one Roger Clemens is just a guy who made a butt load of moneys playing professional baseball.
If we are to believe the decision made by the legal system, we are to view Mr. Clemens as a guy who hurled baseballs better than anyone in the last 40+ years. This is a guy who earned 7 Cy Young awards and an MVP award. He had 6 seasons with 20+ wins. Roger had a sub-3 ERA in 12 different seasons. He had 11 seasons with 200+ strikeouts, and 2 with over 290 K's. Those, my friends, are holy shit numbers. Those are not only shoe-in Hall of Fame numbers, but borderline GOAT status numbers (Greatest Of All Time). You may never have cheered for him, depending on where your fandom allegiances lie, but you sure as hell have to admit those number make him the best pitcher you've been alive to see.

The only problem with Roger Clemen's legacy is this whole steroid thing. The problem with this problem is that it's a BIG problem. I, for one, have no idea how Congress spent millions of American tax dollars on this case and failed to win. In my eyes, it's as obvious as any PED case outside of Barry Bonds. I mean, the dude had an ERA in 2005 of 1.87 and was under 3.00 in 2004-2006. Oh yeah, bee tee dubs, he turned 40 in 2003. Nobody wins Cy Youngs and pitches like that after 40 without steroids or some sort of performance enhancer. Beyond unnatural numbers, Clemens' trainer and a plethora of humans around baseball seem convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was a drug user. Teammates, friends, and team personnel testified against him. Witnesses all over the place aren't buying Clemens' claims, but that's not what the jury believes.

Now, why is this important to baseball today and in the future? This guy retired. His influence on players is no longer a thing. It shouldn't matter to baseball fans whether or not he's in jail or in a ginormous house somewhere out in Texas. I'll tell you why we should care. He's going to be up for election into the Hall of Fame in the next couple years and it's now uncertain whether or not he will, or deserves to be, elected. In my humble opinion, it's inevitable that he will someday be represented by a bronze statue of his big steroidy head in Cooperstown.

What is in question is when he'll get the nod. It is truly an honor in the baseball world to be elected in one's first year of eligibility. If someone takes more than one year to be elected by the Baseball Writers of America, it is as much of an insult as little guys behind a typewriter can hurl at the pro athletes they follow so closely. I for one, think he deserves to get in the first time around. While I also believe he took steroids, I think his accomplishments are still first-ballot worthy. The tail end of his career may be artificially enhanced, but his early numbers are Hall worthy. Another reason I think he shouldn't be overlooked that first year of eligibility has to do with his peers. He dominated everyone in the league during the "Long Ball Era". The MLB had a slogan that said, "Chicks dig the long ball!" That was basically Major League Baseball's way of advertising for the steroid using hitters. Despite this attempt to juice up the offensive numbers around the league, Clemens routinely shut down every lineup he faced.

You may disagree with me because you view steroid users as the ultimate cheaters, but I think we still need to respect the hard work this man put in to get the results he did. Just taking performance enhancers won't make one a muscly baseball animal. People have to bust their ass in workouts and take care of their bodies to ensure that steroids are going to make them bigger, stronger, and faster. In the end, Roger Clemens worked his ass off to get outstanding results. Results that, in my mind, should land him in the Hall of Fame the first time his name appears on the ballot.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Perfect Football World

College Football's postseason has been the topic of debate for as long as I can remember, and probably even before that. Being in my early 20's, I'm a product of the BCS Generation. Yes, I'm aware that the BCS Generation isn't actually a thing, but work with me people. For over 90 years, college football's "national champion" was just kinda voted on by writers, coaches, and experts. This solution led to many co-champions over the years, and sharing a championship is like kissing a really, really hot cousin. I mean, you get a ring, and I assume you get a whole trophy, but there's like a hundred guys with the same ring and a similarly shiny trophy. There's also the fact that some guy in a bar is always going to get drunk and talk trash about how you aren't a "real" champion. In 1998, some conglomeration of geniuses developed the Bowl Championship Series to determine a true champion. This means that every year there is an actual championship game, whether it was the Rose, Orange, Sugar, or Fiesta bowls, or the new BCS Championship Game.

To decide who plays in the big game, a tricky formula that combines all sorts of polls and computer games was created. While this sounds like a good idea, I can't recall a season in which everyone was happy with the teams chosen to play for the trophy. It seems like every year there's more than 2 deserving teams. Some years there's 3 or 4 teams that go undefeated. Other years, there's one team that goes 12-0 and like 7 teams that go 11-1 or 10-1. Still, in other years, there will be 2 teams that are 11-1, or so, but a mid-major team like TCU or Boise State goes undefeated and feel they deserve a chance to prove their mettle (SAT word right there). I guess what I'm getting at, is that the BCS never really gave the people what they wanted-- an undeniable champion.

For the past couple of years, fans have been demanding a playoff or tournament to decide the champion. Some want a 16 team playoff. Some want an 8 team affair. In the end, the bigwigs of the NCAA have come up with a gillion reasons why this just cannot happen. I, for one, agree with said bigwigs. That's a lot of time allocated to one football tournament. It's not like basketball, when a team can play 2 games in 3 days. Football players need some rest, you guys. Another thing to remember, is that college bowl season happens to coincide with finals. While most of these guys are getting paid more than I am, they're technically still college students and have to at least pretend to go to the exams, or arrange a "tutor" to help them pass. I assume there's some effort needed to coordinate a substitute test taker in "Coaching 101," or whatever LSU's defensive backs major in. All I'm sayin, is that a tournament of that magnitude would never work with college football, so shut the hell up America.

To appease it's fans, and do what's right, in general, the head honchos of the NCAA have agreed to attempt to organize a 4 team playoff to decide a national champion. It's not perfect, but we're getting somewhere people. The problem is, those honchos don't actually know the best way to make this happen, so they've asked some of the bigger conferences for suggestions. As far as we, the general, unpress-passed, public, know, the SEC and B1G have formed committees to put together proposals for the NCAA football mob bosses. We can't know exactly what they have in mind, and, quite frankly, it's a waste of time to speculate. Instead, we can all come up with our own propositions, and complain wildly when nothing we say or do gets listened to. I for one, think this sounds like a helluva fun way to kill and evening before the wrestling match that is the Eastern Conference Finals starts. There are a lot of different components to organizing this 4 teams playoff, and I'll just throw you my opinion on how it should all work out. If you happen to know someone with some sway in this matter, don't hesitate to take my ideas, get rich, and live out MY wildest dreams. Ass hole.

First, and most importantly, the method of selection of the 4 teams in the playoff must be determined. Rumor has it the SEC wants the top 4 teams in the rankings to get the bids. Of course they do. This solution could give them 2, 3, or maybe all of the spots in the tournament. It's not hard to envision the end of the 2014 season with Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Auburn (WAR EAGLE!!!!)\, Tennessee, and South Carolina all being in the top 15 or so teams in the nation. That's why I propose a caveat that would prevent this from happening. If there must be a limit to 4 teams, I propose that at least 3 must be conference champions. This allows the SEC to have 2, if they deserve it, but prevents it from becoming the SEC Tournament of football. They had all regular season to beat the shit out of each other. Let someone else get whooped for once. This also gives those mid-major schools (your Boise's, TCU's, Utah's, and BYU's) a chance to get a bid if a top-4 team chooses to stink it up in their championship game, but people still think they're a top team (We're looking at you Oklahoma).

Another rumor is that the B1G (Big Ten) wants a selection committee. I like this idea less because I don't trust humans as far as I can throw them. I'm 5'11", 140. I can throw an adult roughly 0 feet. First off, who makes up this selection committee? It would have to be people with extensive knowledge of the college football world. Enough knowledge to take a look at the top 10-12 teams in the country and pick out which 4 have been the best. The problem with this is that everyone values different things. Some people would put too much stock in the conference a team is in, while some would disregard the same thing. Some people would weigh heavily on the "what have you done for me lately?" mindset, while others would say a top-10 win in September is the same as one in November. Some people would give mid-major teams the benefit of the doubt and argue that they can only beat the teams they play, while others would declare their schedules as "cupcake schedules" and punish them for beating a team like Rice by only 35 points. In the end, I don't like going back to letting a selection committee decide. I mean, that's what we tried to get away from 15 years ago, right?

Another component to this whole mess is the location of the tournament. If I'm not mistaken (I rarely am), a 4 teams tournament consists of 3 games. Also, if I'm not mistaken, there are 4 bowl games that are commonly regarded as the big ones. Originally, the BCS rotated which of the big 4 was the championship, and eventually created a separate game for the championship. In a 4 team, 3 game, tourney, one of those big 4 is gonna get left out like the fat girl at prom. Nobody wants to see a bowl game cry. I propose, in this overly politically correct society we reside in, we play the first round games in 2 of those big bowls, and rotate that round's games each year. That way, 2 games are left out, and can go to a movie while the cool gets dance their hearts out at bowl game prom. Now, this leaves the championship game. I think it would be pretty freakin' nifty if this game travels around, a la the Super Bowl. Obviously it would have to be played in warm cities, or climate controlled arenas because it will be the first week of January, but this would spread Holiday College Football cheer to places that typically don't get to watch powerhouses in person (we're lookin at you Northeast America). The possibility for a cold weather National Championship would never fly, because let's be honest, the teams that will be competing for this thing, save for B1G teams, never, ever play in snow. They can't help that it doesn't snow in Louisiana in September. That's Mother Nature's fault. Bitch.

Anyway, this has been my 13 cents on the controversy. I think I laid out some pretty solid framework, that the NCAA should reallllyyy consider. I mean, it's better than what they have now, right? Say, isn't NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis? Wonder what time they close the office....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

EURO 2012

If you're reading this, I assume you're American (except Anna) and don't give two hoots about futbol. To you, it's what those pretty boy foreigners play in the park, on fields that could have been baseball fields (that's how I felt when I was 12). Since you don't care about soccer, you probably have no idea that a hunormous tournament is about to commence in Poland and the Ukraine. The European Championship occurs every 4 years, and is the second biggest soccer tournament in the world, behind the World Cup. I don't know how many countries are in Europe, and I'm not a globe, so I have no way of finding out, but the top 16 European national teams are divided into 4 groups and will duke it out in a month long tournament. Since the first tournament in 1960, there have been 13 competitions, and 9 different winners-- Germany (3 titles) and Spain and France (2 each) are the only multi-title nations. Noticeably absent from the list of champions is England, a nation commonly associated with exceptional futbol here in the states. Suckers. Anyway, I'm going to attempt to impart some of my soccer knowledge on you people, so listen up. Here's how this is going to go down- I'm going to breakdown each of the 4 groups, tell y'all who's in which group, and who's going to win each group. I'll list the teams in the order that I think they'll finish. I'm not guaranteeing that I'll be 100% correct, but chances are, I'm gonna be pretty freakin' close to perfect, because, well, that's just how I roll. The get this thing started.

Group A
Russia (#11 FIFA World ranking)
Greece (14)
Poland (65)
Czech Republic (26)

Poland, being the host nation, much to the chagrin of a plethora of nations that are probably more deserving, gets and automatic bid into the tournament. In this group it should be Russia on top, and Greece getting the other qualifying spot for the elimination rounds. Greece shocked the world by winning the Euro Championship in 2004, so they know what they're doing once they get to the show. Poland might be able to parlay some of that host nation mojo into a win or two, and if they can beat, not tie, Greece in the tournament opener, they could make a run for the second spot. No team in this group has any world class superstuds that you'd have heard of. Quite frankly, Group A is 4 teams full of people who's names I won't even try to pronounce. Don't expect much out of any of these teams.

Group B
Germany (2)
Netherlands (4)
Portugal (5)
Denmark (10)

Every international soccer tournament has a "Group of Death," which, quite frankly, is a pretty moribund term that we toss around quite lightly. This year, Group B is definitely the Group of Death. Conveniently, Germany is the favorite in the group, kinda like World War II. It really is a toss up of who is going to emerge from this group. Only 2 can go on, but all 4 are legit threats to win the entire tournament. Denmark could lose all 3 of their games, but are the 7th best team in Europe. I could go on all day about he superduperstars in this group, but I kinda wanna get to the pool at some point, so I'll just mention one person from each team that I think will be the difference maker. First, the Nazi's. This team is basically a world all-star team. In 10 qualifying games, they won 10 games, and outscored opponents 34-7. Like every other international tournament, expect Miroslav Klose to score. A lot. He may disappear in club competition, but he scores like mad when he's got this lineup setting him up. Funny thing is, he might not even be the starting forward for the Germans. Mario Gomez (Definitely not a German name) is the striker they'll try to funnel the ball to. This midfield is pretty dominant. With the offense being so potent, the German defenders get to sit back and wait. It's gotta be nice to watch half a game and know that any number of people can get your back if you screw up. Ahhhh, the luxury of being an international superstar. 
The Dutch, my personal favorite international team, can beat anyone (except Portugal), and hopefully they will. Arsenal striker, Robin Van Persie is my favorite player in the world, and just was named Player of the Year in the Premier League. They don't just hand that out, so he's legit. I'd love to see him lead this offensive minded team deeeeeeep in the tournament. I think it's a requirement to have "Van" in your name to be on this squad. Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, and Rafael Van der Vaart are all explosive in their own right. The Oranje will go as far as these offensive wizards take them, because, per usual, they actually don't employ defensive players. They might as well start 10 midfielders and a goalie and call it a day.
Portugal has knocked the Netherlands out of international competition twice in the last decade, and if they win the head-to-head matchup again, they could see themselves in the Round of 16. Without a world class finisher, this team will rely heavily on their fantastic midfielders. Portugal boasts arguably the best individual talent in the tournament, and maybe the world, with the wondrous Cristiano Ronaldo. If he can put the ball in the net, or set up the subpar forwards with crosses they CAN'T miss, this drug riddled nation might see their team go far. Nani is a big name, and plays for the biggest douche team in the world, Manchester United. He kinda wilted like a dying flower to end his club season, but a month off might bring him back to life. Cocaine is legal in Portugal, so expect him to be very alert heading into the tournament. 
Denmark could be the best team to not even come close to winning a game. Nicklas Bendtner is famous for creating marvelous chances...and blowing it. Dude misses the goal by an inch like it's his job, but it's not. Give him a free kick, and he'll put it in, but if he's trying to create something during play, he poops the bed and misses.

Group C
Spain (1 Duh)
Croatia (8)
Ireland (18)
Italy (12)

I'm not saying Spain is gonna win the whole shebang, but it'd be hard for them to blow this group. They're pretty beat up, and are missing a few of the key cogs from their '08 Euro and '10 World Cup championship squad. In the end, though, it's still Spain. They have so many uber-talented players to choose from that their backup team could get out of group play, and possibly get deep in the tournament. The midfield and defense are tops in the world. This team not only wins, but embarrasses opponents with their stylish passing and dribbling. My only hope for this team is that Cesc Febregas sustains a brutal, career ending injury. He left Arsenal high and dry last year to play for Barcelona. His replacement at Arsenal, Mikel Arteta is a heeluva human being and I'd love to see him come in and lead the Spanish squad to some wins. 
After the Spaniards, I think Croatia will pull out 2 wins and get through to the Round of 16. As a huge Arsenal fan, it kills me that a Spurs player is going to lead this team into the second round of play, but Luka Modric is the truth, and will use his teeny tiny body to set up his mates for timely goals. Croatia has CRAZAYYY fans and awesome jerseys. I respect a team that looks like a checker board. 
Ireland doesn't have many stars, but Robbie Keane plays in America, and I respect the hell outta that. MURICA! I also watched Black Donnelly's on Netflix last week, so I'm going through an Irish mob phase right now. I don't wanna see them pissed off, and neither do you.
Italy is still the same team that won the World Cup in '06. Sadly, that means that they're all 6 years older. What was a strong, bullish team, is now a slow, old-man-strength team. They also have Giuseppe Rossi, an American born, New Jersey native, who chose to pledge his allegiance to the Italians. Traitor! I will never support a team that has Benedict Arnold Jr. playing for it. Mario Balotelli could either win the Golden Boot, or get red carded in the first game and cost his country any chance to advance. He's fun. 

Group D
France (16)
England (7)
Sweden (17)
the Ukraine (50)

This is a group chock full of turmoil. England is without that piece of dirt, Wayne Rooney, because he's a dick and decided to get suspended to start the tournament. They'll be playing under a new coach, with all sorts of drama holding them back. This drama includes, but is not limited to, certain star players sleeping with other star player's WAGs (Wives and girlfriends). There shouldn't be a dull moment in that locker room. Talent will prevail, and they'll have to be eliminated in the latter rounds. 
France is one of the more talented teams in the world, but rivals only England in drama. By the end of the last World Cup, France's sporting governing body threatened to disband their entire football program. Now, that'd be something. As it is, this is a group of athletes that can compete with anyone, on any given day, but could also lay an egg and get embarrassed outta the Bloc. As of late, France is killing it, though, and haven't lost a match in their last 18 tries. 
Sweden's best player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, makes Ron Artest seem normal. Ibra, known for being a stud in games that don't matter, released a book last year with a lot of things you don't expect a star, still playing in his prime, to say. My favorite quote, about his former coach, is this: "Then Guardiola started his philosopher thing. I was barely listening. Why would I? It was advanced bullshit about blood, sweat and tears, that kind of stuff.” Classic. Sweden could be almost as exciting as England. 
The Ukraine brings up the rear. I don't actually know anything about them beyond the fact that Andriy Schevchenko is one of my heroes because I loved his name when I was in high school. ESPN the Mag says that the most notable thing about this team is that there are a lot of Andriy's. That's nifty. 

Overall, I think the Netherlands will beat Germany in the final. At least, that's what I'd like to see. A little vengeance from World War II is in order. This tournament has a ton of big names, and should have some memorable matches. I don't think anyone will be disappointed when this thing's said and done. Except Italy. Screw those guys.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Game 6 LIVE Blog

Welp, I'll be updating this here blog every couple minutes. I hope that my comments about the happenings of the game keep y'all entertained. I'll be including some of the comments of the folks that I'm watching the game with. It should get interesting. I don't think anyone else in the room knows more than one player on either team. I'll be educating these folks as I educate you. Get excited. I am.

Pre Game: The cable provider is screwing us out of our HD. I'm gonna throw a bitch fit if it doesn't get resolved. I can't properly see Dwyane Wade's tears in regular television.
More Pre Game: They're discussing the possibility that Shaq will take the GM job in Orlando. I seem to forget him being offered the job...
More More Pre Game: ESPN just texted me this "MVP LeBron James and Heat play Pacers in Game 6 of East semis at 8 pm ET on ESPN." Guess who doesn't? Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittbitch. The Pacers were outscored by 28 with Haslem on the court, and outscored the CHeat by 1 without him in game 5. Jussayin...
Commercial: I swear I won't talk much about the commercials, but I just saw a vodka commercial with Swedish House Mafia music. It's no secret that I have an affinity for electric music. I'm gonna have to stock up on Absolut.

11:59: And we're off.
11:13: First foul on Turiaf. If they're big fellers get in foul trouble, Hibbert might have 30 rebounds.
9:58: Wuddya know? Wade didn't get a bogus call and missed the shot. Never seen that before.
9:26: Granger's ankle looked fine on that fastbreak dunk.
9:11: Poor baby LeBron disagreed with a call against him? Shocking.
8:30: After another easy bucket in the paint, the Heat realize they're overmatched and have chosen to withdraw from competition.
8:30: Pardon me. That was just a typical "Oh shit, we're getting smoked" timeout. Paul George seems to have gotten a technical foul for pointing to Mr. Wade. The announcers seem as confused as me about why it was assessed. I blame racism.
8:06: I wonder if ESPN told these guys to try to mention that the Pacers had the 5th best record in the NBA as many times as possible.
7:15: As they're talking about Granger's broken ankle, he decides to say shut up to everyone watching by draining a 3. That's my boy.
6:30: David West and his knee are deciding to make Shane Battier look kiiiinda like a pussy.
5:00: Pacers by 11. I think they all decided to NOT miss shots this time. Bold move.
4:20: Ha. 420. Wade must be stoned. I think he's missed every free throw he's taken in May.
3:52: Maybe not. He just did that slam dunk thing again.
3:44: If you didn't hear, the inside game is going to be important. Interesting...
3:06: We're informed that Leandro Barbosa tries REALLY hard on defense...just sucks at it.
3:00: Barbosa promptly picks up a shitty foul.
1:29: Joel Anthony blocks Tyler Hansbrough twice. Psycho T gets fouled by Mike Miller on the putback. Racism.
1:10: Barbosa fails to remember that dribbling is important. That's a turnover, bruh.
0:00: Pacers lead 28-21. Indiana is shooting 63% to Miami's 44%. Sucks when the lucky shots are going our way, don't it?

11:15: Couple of legitimate offensive fouls called on the Pacers. Shit happens.
10:39: Mike Miller, the only person on the Heat that can shoot, did the thing where he shoots.
10:16: Pacers promptly try to lose the game by getting a 24 second violation.
9:15: Wade made the first jump shot that he didn't attempt to draw a foul in his 7 year career.
8:56: Smoke break.
7:09: The come back is on. Pacers inch one point closer.
6:24: Dwyane Wade shows off his dribblnig skills... by double dribbling.
6:11: I think ESPN just gave the Pacers a free point. Yeahhhhh buddy.
5:59: Van Gundy reminiscing about Market Sqare Arena being the loudest building OF ALL TIME (I might have made that part up.)
5:37: Heat call a "We sucked there for a bit" timeout.
5:37: Google is keeping track of how many people are reading this. 20. Wooo!! Someone cares!
4:52: Granger on another fast break dunk to go up by 4. That's a very good sign.
4:15: Reckon the Pacers' goal is to set a record for most turnovers in a playoff win?
3:47: Fans chanting "HE'S A FLOPPER!" While Wade is shooting free throws. Classic.
2:15: David West drops in his 12th points. Big fellers doin work inside.
1:30: LeBron James performs his least athletic layup ever, and gets up limpy. YESSSSSS
1:20: After a closeup on LeBron my viewing mates give these comments:
Mom- "He's one ugly dude."
Short friend- "He looks like Leonidis."
Fat friend- "He looks like Satan."
0:40.7: Horse shit call on Granger. All ball on Wade. Shoulda raked his eye out. Wade makes first career free throw.
0:18.1: David West. Too good.
0:00.0: Pacers take a 2 point lead into half time. Them's mah boys.

Only one technical foul in the first half, and zero flagrants. Hopefully we don't fall asleep. Let's see some blood!
12:00: So the shirts they gave out say #GoldSwagger. Nifty stuff. Let's check the ol Twitter.
11:38: Pacers forced to call a timeout for not being able to inbound the ball after the Heat score in less than 22 seconds to tie the game. Awesome start, fellers.
10:30: Pacers are reverting back to the style of shitty shot selection, no ball movement, and, most importantly, losing. Awe-fudgin-some.
9:33: The Pacers decided that they went too long without a technical, so they get creative and go for defensive 3 seconds.
8:51: Danny Granger's shitty shot selection gets bailed out by the monster Paul George putback dunk. I like that strategy-- suck, then don't.
7:51: George Hill, playoff veteran, gets fouled on a 3. Promptly misses 2 of them. Good work. Nobody can choke like the Pacers.
6:36: It's uncanny how the Pacers completely forget how to play basketball in the second half.
6:15: Yet, it's tied. If this blog stops before the game ends, assume I had a heart attack.
5:31: Foul trouble is creeping in. I'd love to see the refs have the balls to give him a 4th foul in the 3rd.
5:01: I guess the NBA is reading along because Granger picked up his 4th 30 seconds later.
4:24: George Hill takes a shot to his testicular region. Poor guy.
4:00: Collison picks a stellar time to score a point. Tie balls game (see what I did there).
3:52: Timeout CHeat. Look for LeBron to score their next 42 points with Granger on the bench.
3:52: Danny Granger got recruited by Yale. That doesn't explain his retarded shot selection.
2:53: Mike Miller, according to Jeff Van Gundy, looks like a 60 year old man hobbling around the court. He promptly turned the ball over making his first attempt at dribbling towards the basket.
2:16: Mario Chalmers used his head on the rebound...to knock it outta bounds. ZIIING see what I did there.
1:16: Woo. Another tech on David West. This Pacers team is the most selfish team I've ever seen. So many selfish shots, selfish fouls, and all around bad plays. The mindset of "Coach won't take me out if I do this" is not going to win this game.
0:14.6: David West & Co. are doing everything they can to blow this game. Good work guys. Only a couple million people invested their heart and souls into this game.
0:0.0: Mario Chalmers' scrawney bitch ass decides to kill me a little. Ass hole.

Roy Hibbert has 8 points and 5 rebounds. Against Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf. That's our All Star getting bitched around.
11:38: Pacers attempt to turn it over on their first position. Psycho T accidentally hits a shitty jumper.
10:36: I wonder if the Pacers are going to have more or less free throws than turnovers. Currently tied at 18.
10:16: LeBron gets away with a taunting call that West got called for earlier.
9:53: Free throw attempts take a lead. 20-18. Heat lead 83-75.
9:17: David West is reading along. He decides to get a free throw AND a basket. 21-18 free throws. Oh, and the CHeat are up by 5.
8:49: Wha wha wha?!?! The Pacers are making plays on defense? Nifty stuff.
8:21: Back-to-back hustle plays to keep possession alive.
8:19: Promptly give it back on an offensive foul. Good work guys.
7:59: Mr. Yale picks up his 5th foul. Good move, guy.
7:38: Free throws 23. Turnovers 19.
6:52: LeBron James is going to the line to make it an 11 point game. So close. Let's wrap this up so I can go to bed.
6:21: Damn you, Paul George. Makin it close, and shit.
5:57: James turns it over and we gots a timeout. 8 point game. Just close enough to not give up hope.
5:57: I wonder how many people pull out their iPhone's after those commercials and ask Siri the same questions they just saw answered. Rachel just asked for a joke. Got the same one she asked the bald dude on TV. Daniel takes it and tells Siri to "Holdmahdick." She was offended.
5:40: Pacers attempt to turn it over for a 20th time. Settle for an awful shot and lose possession. Typical.
4:40: Anyone know where Dwyane Wade is staying tonight?
3:45: David West gets a 3 point play. But chooses to miss the free throw. Clever move.
3:13: Dwyane Wade is never going to get out of Indiana. He's definitely got some warrants out for his arrest. He's straight assaulted this team.
2:28: Roy Hibbert selfishly taps in the missed shot by George Hill to keep it at 6. I just want to be able to emotionally check out of this season. My heart can't take it no more.
2:28: I've got some shows on Netflix I want to catch up on. Either blow the game like usual, or win. It's not that hard.
1:37: Coming out of the timeout, the Pacers went back to the lifeless blobs that we've seen since there were 4 minutes left in the first quarter. It's about time to wrap it up and pack it in. Know what the cool part is? If they come back, I'll edit this to make me look good. Ahhhh technology.
1:09: LeBron does that thing where he scores a lot. That'll do it.
0:0.0: Great season Pacers. I'm proud of every game this year, except for the last 2. They end the season with an incredibly sour taste in their mouth. On the bright side, like some 15 year old who just huffed a bunch of compressed air, they have to think about those actions and improve next time. In November, the Pacers will come out motivated and feisty. 2012-2013 will be something to look forward to, and I, for one, am quite excited. I'm proud, disappointed, but optimistic. Good night to both the people who probably read this.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Haters Gonna Hate

You might have missed it because it coincided with the Glee and American Idol finales, but the Miami Cavs and the Indiana Pacers competed in a professional basketball game last night. A big game, too. Now, if you know me, you know that I think the NBA Playoffs are the single best sporting tournament there is (World Series of Beer Pong not counting as a sport). I think that NBA players are the best athletes in the world and when the playoffs start, we are the ones who benefit most. If you're a fan of phenomenal athletes competing at an incredibly high level of intensity, which I assume you are because you're a human, then it doesn't get much better than the NBA playoffs. 

Everyone hoots and hollers about how great the purity of the NCAA Tournament is because the players give 100% all season, for free, and an upset could happen at any given time. That's all fine and dandy, but let's remember why these guys aren't getting paid-- they aren't as good. Say all you want about NBA players sandbagging during the regular season compared to college guys playing their hearts out every night. Those guys play twice a week, and never eclipse 40 games. NBA players can play over 100 games in a season. Longer, more physical games. You try doing that and you'll end up like Manu Ginobili or Greg Oden. The NBA playoffs also features the best referees in the world. I'm not saying they're perfect- they're humans, afterall- but NCAA refs are horrible on occasion. Just ask UNC-Asheville about getting THIS close to history, but being robbed by the NCAA refs. Overall, the quality of the games in the NBA playoffs is superior.

Now that I've finished that rant, we can talk about what's really grinding my gears this evening. As I said, the NBA playoffs are intense, and this can lead to some chippyness. My favorite group of pro basketballers, the Pacers, seem to take this to a whole new level in the playoffs. They aint takin no shit from nobody. Just ask the Bulls last year. Last night's game took it to another level. Despite it being a blowout, my boys weren't backing down from a fight. There were 3 flagrant fouls, and some injuries caused by possible anger-fueled retaliations. This all resulted in 2 suspensions for the dirtbags..errr the Cavs...errr the Heat. Tyler Hansbrough, after a clean block on Dwyane Wade, scraped the superstar's face, drew some blood, and received a flagrant. Udonis Haslem got one game for a hit that would have gotten him a suspension in the NFL. There's literally no professional sport in which a 2 handed blow to someone's dome is within the rules. Poor Tyler Hansbrough was just trying to take an awful shot. He would have missed anyway. Dexter Pittbitch got a 3 game suspension for his attempted decapitation of Mr. Lance Stephenson, which was punctuated by a little wink to a teammate. What goes through someone's mind when celebrating a blatant cheap shot like that? "Hey, the cameraman probably forgot I'm in the NBA, he won't see me wink." Moron.

Now, not to brag, but I predicted both of these suspensions. After the game, I told my viewing partners (a cute little Asian girl, and a busty blonde) exactly who would get what. They looked at me like I was speaking Tengwar (Elvish, like in Lord of the Rings, duh). Anyway, when the suspensions were announced, I immediately went to the Miami Herald's website to start some interweb fights. Yes, I'm a troller. I like to argue, sue me (really, do, you'll lose). I wanted to see what the Miami fans had to say about this ordeal. Obviously, there were a bunch of people arguing that nobody should be suspended, or that Tyler should get the same as Haslem. There are arguments to be made there, but I will NEVER buy into them. GO PACERS!! 

The thing that struck a chord with me, is that the Heat fans were claiming that Hansbrough didn't get a suspension because he's white. Wait wait what?!?! Are you SERIOUS!\?!?!?!1/1/1???!? Excuse me while I pick up the pieces of my exploded head. Here's some of the comments by Miami's super duper smart fanbase:

Buxster07-- "Tyler gets a pass because he is white.  His foul intention was to hit and gouge the eyes of Wade.  
Intent is "tricky" to evaluate and "meaning of colors" always has psychological symbolic impact."
Myster_Z-- "So the black guys get the suspensions and the white guy gets nothing? I should of seen this coming. Guess if you're white you're right and if you're black you' re wrong. Unbelievable. SMH"
There were many more ignorant statements in the comment section here and on ESPN.com. Now, to end this argument, I did a little research to see if the man who handed down the suspensions had other "racist" tendencies. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, Stu Jackson, was responsible for reviewing the plays and handing down suspensions. Here's a picture of him:

Welp, I rest my case. Miami Heat fans are dumb, the NBA Playoffs are better than Christmas, the Pacers ARE going to win in 7 games, and I'm tired of writing, so I'm going to bed.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/23/2814489/nba-suspends-miami-heats-udonis.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/23/2814489/nba-suspends-miami-heats-udonis.html#st

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why Do We Care?

Unless you live under a rock, didn't turn on a television yesterday, or simply don't give a hoot about baseball, you probably heard about Phillip Humber's perfect game yesterday. If not, here's the box score. Notice the team that managed to put exactly ZERO runners on base. Yes, that is my beloved Seattle Mariners. The M's managed to do what only 20 professional baseball lineups have done before them. They put on a masterful display in the art of ineptitude. On April 21, 2012, the Seattle Mariners joined 20 other lineups in history as being 100% incapable of doing what they are getting paid to do. The Mariners' offense is bad. We know this. Hell, I've been waiting for the M's to get no-hit for years, but this was bad.

It was not a pretty sight yesterday evening when I got a Twitter message (yup, I Tweet), saying "Phil humber just perfect gamed your mariners at safeco." At first I was upset. His favorite team just bent my favorite team over a chair and had its way, and I would certainly rub his face in it if the situation were reversed. But one part of his brief, but oh so hurtful, message was the part that reads "YOUR mariners." Since when are they my Mariners? Why do I feel the need to share in their embarrassment? I didn't just strike out 9 times and draw 0 walks against a man who has had reconstructive surgery and has never pitched a complete game, nonetheless a no-hitter. The Seattle Mariners are the ones who screwed up, not me.

I thought about that for a while. How is it that we the people can become so emotionally involved in something that we have almost no control over? Literally nothing I do today is going to help Michael Saunders not suck at hitting baseballs. Literally nothing I do today is going to alter what players the Mariners are going to put on the field tonight. No matter how loud I scream for them to win today, they won't hear me. Yet, it still kills me a little inside every time a man I'll never meet blows a save or strikes out.

It's not just baseball, and it's not just me. Almost every fan of a professional sports team in this world shares my plight. Sometimes it feels like you care more than the people on the field. I can't tell you how frustrated I've been when it seems like I'm a bigger Pacer fan than the head coach. I find myself thinking, over and over, things like "How can you make that call?" "How can you not dive after that ball?" "How can you drop that pass?" "How can you do that to ME?" If you're a true fan, you know that feeling inside of you as your starting Left Tackle misses an "easy" block and you want to jump through the TV and make a play to save your QB. In reality, there are probably 10 people on Earth that I'd try to stop a 300 LB man from pummeling, but when I watch sports, I'm ready to take a bullet for my team. A team I don't play for, full of men I don't know.

I'm not a brain doctor, so I can't even come close to telling you why people choose to let themselves get so attached to something that they aren't a part of. I can tell you that the love people have for their teams, be it the hometown team or one across an ocean, is very real. We know this because of how we feel after a game, whether it was a win or a loss. All the disappointment, anger, depression, and occasional embarrassment being brought on by situations that you can't control is worth it when you get to swell with pride and approval when they win. I don't regret it one bit. It's why we love sports.