Monday, June 28, 2010

The Monday Roast: People That Don't Watch Soccer Because of Flopping

1.  You better not be a Duke fan, because I've seen Greg Paulus "take a charge."  Boom, roasted.

2.  You're right, the sport would be better if there were no disincentive to injuring star players who risk their professional salaries to play for their country.  Boom, roasted.

3.  Right again, sprinting constantly up and down a field measuring 120 yards by 75 yards for one and one half hours is a pansy endeavor.  Boom, roasted.

4.  How do you explain your affinity for watching figure skating?  Boom, roasted.

5.  Not a fan of faking?  Talk to your girlfriend.  Boom, roasted.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wold Cup is Abbreviated WC and I Like Both

I’m caught. Hook, line, and sinker.

I’m head-over-heels.

I’ve got a fever and the only remedy is more World Cup.

That’s right. Me, the former hater of all soccer, is in love with it. It’s amazing. I want crosses and headers and corner kicks and yellow cards and strikes and flops and ties and vuvuzelas and bald Bradley’s and flags and everything. I want it all.

If you re-read that list you will indeed see I’ve embraced the flopping. Get over it. It’s part of the game just like steroids, USC recruiting, and John Calipari. It happens, now deal. Flops and dives create set plays and 33% of all goals in the 2006 World Cup were scored on set plays. It works and winners play to win.

I used to think soccer was 90-minutes of run and kick; a glorified kindergarten recess if you will. No. It’s incredible. It’s a grueling, heart and gut check 90-minutes of strength and endurance. Goals are created not stumbled upon. I truly see it as “The Beautiful Game.”

Oh yeah, and the US advanced to the elimination stage by winning Group C. NBD. Didya see it? Ya know, the one where keeper-extraordinaire, Tim Howard, outlet the ball to Landon-the-Conqueror who forwarded it to Jozy Altidore who missed but Landon-the-Fearless found the back of the net in the ninty-first minute? That one.

And Landon-the-Magnificent came through. He’s played well throughout the Cup and should continue to do so. An iconic, American athlete, on the biggest stage, in the biggest moment delivered. Hyperbole time sports writers?

I’m not about to follow the English Premiere League and certainly not MLS. I’m not going to collect soccer cards or remember stats. And I’ll undoubtedly never call it futbol. But I no longer hate or fear The Beautiful Game I didn’t know. It just took some patience and understanding (take note far-righters).

So, onward and forward it is for the kickin’ Yanks. This Saturday, go find an American bar with an American crowd get an American pre-noon drink, definitely high-five, and cheer for the red-white-and-blue.

Take heed World, for it’s Dempsey, Bradley, and Howard then go hit the shower.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Monday Roast: Glenn Beck

1.  The only thing in this country you haven't compared to Nazi Germany is a state law that requires you to carry proof of citizenship at all times.  Boom, roasted.

2.  Did you have your cuff links shipped directly from your Goldline International broker?  Boom, roasted.

3.  You started a clothing and merchandise line based on "bringing us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001"--uh, no thanks.  Boom, roasted.

4.  The people who pay you know you're wrong, you're crazy, and you're an asshole.  Boom, roasted.

5.  You don't know it.  Boom, roasted.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go

So the Uber Pac is not going to happen. I thought it would've been a good idea. BH disagreed but we agree that it was somewhat of an inevitability. Although the great-and-powerful UT's decision to create a better television deal with fewer teams has left our beloved Pac-10 looking like a rejected prom date, this can still be salvaged.

Let's get real, conference realignment has taught us two things:
  1. Mass media may be getting out of control. If reports that "Texas to the Pac-10 is imminent" and "Texas is remaining in Big-12" can come out simultaneously, news begins to sound like a guessing game. That's no bueno.
  2. College sports may be more money driven than any of us ever imagined. The fact that un-nameable contributors made phone calls and visits to keep the Big-12 together is both frightening and discouraging that the college games we love because "it's about winning and school pride, not contracts and paydays" likely doesn't exist. Did you hear about FedEx's supposed $10 mil offer to invite Memphis into any BCS Conference. Sheesh.
As college sports enthusiasts, I think we're a bit naive and also choose to turn a blind eye to the foul play unfolding right before our eyes. Or is that just Mike Garrett?

Anyhow, how to salvage an embarrassed Pac-10. First of all, the Big-12 Lite is making it very clear that its two defects, Nebraska and Colorado, contributed less than their financial load to the conference. Basically, this makes the Pac-10 look silly for taking anything that would say yes. But let's be serious, we've all been there before, right? We digress. Because conference realignment point #2 taught us that college sports is really just money hungry, we must focus on how to make money.

Invite Utah.

Blah, blah, the Pac-10 is an academic juggernaut and Utah indeed meets those credentials. So what hurdle is there? They have better athletics than Washington State and it opens things to a new market. And, perhaps most importantly, adding Utah gets the Pac to the requisite twelve teams for a conference title game in football. Your big money maker. Doesn't that sound nice Larry Scott?

So traditionalists can still get most of their favorite aspects of the Pac-10 (home-and-aways, geographic partners) and the real NCAA can make its coin. As fans, we can hope Scott gets more creative than signing with Fox Sports.

Sound good? Works by me. And the Pac-10 can actually encompass the Pacific Coast. Kinda makes sense, too.

But as most things go in college sports, we're all just gonna have to wait and see.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Monday Roast: Too Cool to Dance-ers

1.  Middle school wasn't that bad.  Boom, roasted.

2.  That's why they made music, embrace it and get over yourself.  Boom, roasted.

3.  Your parents' dance moves may be embarrassing, but stoic and arms crossed is stupid.  Boom, roasted.

4.  You're not Hitch, you're more like Kevin James' character (and yes, you did see it).  Boom, roasted.

5.  If you want to go home with the girl, at least try standing idly next to her rather than standing idly next to the bathroom.  Boom, roasted.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Miracle on Grass Isn't Why You Should Watch the World Cup, But Maybe...

In case you live under a rock or in the United States, there's a little soccer tournament starting today in South Africa. The tournament, of course, is The World Cup.

Like many, if not most, Americans, I am not a soccer fan. It does not tickle my fancy to watch 22 men run up and down a field for a 90-minutes then play an arbitrary time period to make up for flopping - excuse me, injuries.

The World Cup is different. As soon as you get the entire world focused on a single event, it's worth watching. It's indeed different for Americans and not something the US is supposed to win. But we love an underdog, right? We still talk about the "Miracle On Ice" and scream for Cinderella's in March. The US team could put together an improbable run and win the thing and Landon Donovan would be deified.

But that's not why you should watch. You should watch because this thing is about pride. National pride is on the line in any given match and if you say you're a college sports fan because "those guys are playing for the love of the game" watch the World Cup. Those guys cry over individual matches. They fight tooth and nail for each ball because they know that this is the World's Cup and to win the World's anything means you're the World's best and what can be better than that? Can you imagine being introduced at a cocktail party to someone, "This is Mitchell, he's on the World's best soccer team." Are you kidding me?

And sure, these guys are going to take some dives and not play "like men" while rolling on the grass, grabbing at their ankles. But they're playing with higher stakes than most athletes will ever play for: a nation's pride.

So America, for one month, let's minimally criticize the flopping, euro hairdos, horn blowing, and fandimonium to just watch. Watch in a pub, have a good beer, and chat up a neighbor. Drop names like Onyewu,  Dempsey, and Altidore. If nothing else you'll have a good excuse for some daytime - the best time - boozing.

And who knows, maybe in thirty years we'll still be telling everyone about the Miracle on Grass?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hoops are nice and all, but John Wooden got "it"

John Wooden was a really good basketball coach. But I don't think his recent passing should prompt us to look at wins, losses, and championships. The man changed lives. He taught the essentials of life using athletics as his forum.

What he taught was relationships. It should come as no surprise that the five blocks creating the base of his famous "Pyramid of Success" revolve around relating to others: industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and enthusiasm. The base of success is relating to people around us.  He was a leader by understanding not by imposing.

Take notice aspiring Donald Trump's, Gordon Gekko's, and Bernie Madoff's: success has nothing to do with being cut-throat, lying, cheating, manipulating, or stealing. Success may indeed be very simple. If nothing else, Wooden was a proponent of the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have done unto oneself. It really is simple stuff. Ask any of Wooden's teams who opened each season by learning to put their socks on properly. Treat your feet well and you wont lose preparation time to a senseless blister. Elementary my dear Watson.

So while the Wizard of Westwood in fact won a record ten NCAA titles (including seven consecutively), you should also know that he wrote his wife, Nellie, a love letter each month since she passed in 1985. And know that in his biography he wrote, "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." And know that he always called himself a teacher.

He wanted to improve the human condition and aren't we lucky he did just that?

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Monday Roast: Ed Hardy

1.  I thought Lisa Frank already had the sparkly, colorful animal market cornered.  Boom, roasted.

2.  No matter how tan you are, dragons are not cool.  Boom, roasted.

3.  I don't know if I'd rather be stabbed by the unicorn on your shirt or your spiked hair.  Boom, roasted.

4.  What do the people who find the Ralph Lauren/Polo horse too big think of your coronated, three dimensional, psychedelic tiger?  Boom, roasted.

5.  How does it feel to have a $200 tee shirt to go with your $50 Von Dutch trucker hat?  Boom, roasted.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Musings on Roger Federer

Something strange happened the other day in Paris: the semifinals of the French Open were played without Roger Federer.  For those that don't follow tennis the fact the French Open was going on is probably news.  However, for those that have followed Tennis at all during the past six years that piece of news should come as a shock.  For you see, before the French Open Roger Federer had played in every semifinal in each of the last 23 grand slam events.  That streak is far and away the longest such record in men's tennis history.

Perhaps the record seems unremarkable.  However, bear in mind that before Federer's streak Ivan Lendll held the record with ten consecutive grand slam semi final appearances, and before Lendll the record was six.  You might also note that among active players, the current streak is now one; a record shared by the four men who played in the semi finals of this year's French Open.

That type of sustained excellence is simply unparalleled.  During those 23 trips to the semi finals Federer won 14 titles and played in 20 grand slam finals.  Stop for a moment and consider that: Roger Federer has played in 20 of the last 23 grand slam finals.  That consistency and dominance of the sport over six years and 23 tournaments is what sets the man apart as the best tennis player ever.

People may quibble about his title as best player ever.  People say he could never solve Rafael Nadal, he isn't even the best player in his day.  That sentiment ignores the fact that Federer has been Nadal's opponent in the finals of all Nadal's grand slam titles except one while Nadal has been Federer's opponent in less than half the grand slam finals Federer has played in.

Federer has won 16 grand slam titles (a record).  He has won five straight Wimbledon titles (a record) and five straight U.S. Open crowns (also a record).  He holds the record for most consecutive grand slam finals (10)--the next best is 8 (held by Roger Federer).  His name is on a list of six men in the history of the sport to win on every surface--a list that does not include Bjorne Borg, John McCenroe, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendll, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg.  He has won 80% of all the matches he has ever played; he has a gold medal; and he has netted 55 million dollars in prize money (most ever).

All of Federer's staggering marks and records are encapsulated by his streak of 23 consecutive grand slam semifinals; a streak that may well stand the test of time even after any of his other records fall.