Doping Allegations Hit Le Tour Once Again

>> Friday

As the post-Lance Armstrong era in professional cycling is only hours from beginning, doping allegations have once again tainted the Tour de France. In perhaps the biggest doping scandal since 1998, stars Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) and Ivan Basso (CSC) have been suspended by their cycling teams and barred from entering the race by race director Jean-Marie Leblanc. On May 23, Spanish authorities arrested Eufemiano Fuentes, a doctor who worked with riders from the Liberty Seguros-Würth team because of allegations that he had performed "blood-transfusions" on over 50 professional cyclists. Spanish police seized nearly 200 bags of blood which were ultimately linked with rider's in this years tour, including Ullrich and Basso. In the investigation, the UCO has documented evidence linking Fuentes with Jose Luis Merino Batres, who is in charge of a blood transfusion laboratory in Madrid. This evidence ranges from telephone, photographic, and video over the course of a four month period prior to this years tour. In addition to the 200 bags of blood discovered, authorities also found dozens of doses of anabolic steroids / hormones, products to manipulate the steroids, and freezers designed to store blood for transfusions.

In light of the recent allegations against Lance Armstrong by both British writer David Walsh and former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, one wonders about Armstrong's possible connection. It is ironic that Armstrong retired "just in time" before tour officials started implicating more tests and searches of the athetes competing. But, before one ponders Armstrong's guilt, one must realize that none of Armstong's team member's, several of which are from Spain, were implicated in this scandal. In a sense, Armstrong comes out clean from this mess.

But, Armstrong will forever be remembered as the last rider to win Le Tour during the "Doping Era" of professional cycling, whether this is a fair characterization or not. Because Armstrong ( athlete Armstrong) stands for "cocky" and "coorporate" America, the French will forever connect Armstrong to this era despite never testing positive for anabolic steroids (although he did test positive in 1999, but it was later determined to reside from his use of antiobiotic cream used for saddle sores). Unfortunately, one of the most competitive Tours in recent time has been crippled from the allegations of blood doping and EPO use.


Kickin' A Dead Horse

Here is an awesome article from the blog Sportszilla that shows how A-Rod is definitively better than Jeter in every situation, including, Matt Zuchowski, the clutch ones.

And no, I won't let this issue drop. Not now, not ever.

P.S. Adam Dunn is awesome.


YCS members: Here is your homework assignment

You know those cheesy, pre-game cut-and-paste videos that every station does before just about every game? Well Pat and I just witnessed one of the greatest ones of those ever made.
To prelude the Cubs/White Sox game, WGN did a rendition of "We Didn't Start the Fire" called "Who's played third since Santo?"
I'm making it the goal of every YCS member (writer or reader) to find this video on the internet within the next couple of days, because it is something that just might change all of our lives forever.


I Hope Houston knows what player they got.

Thanks to's draft profile on Steve Novak.


11. Fan voting for the All-Star Game

With the passing of the voting deadline last night, I was going to write a big long post on why the system is flawed. I was going to write why, with the game determining home-field advantage in the World Series, it matters that the system is flawed. But I was beaten to the punch by Gene Wojciechowski, who makes a great case for taking away the fans' votes.

I would like to add one more reason why the system is flawed. The Pollack mentions that anyone who plays DH (see: Jim Thome) is left off the ballot (of course, David Ortiz's five starts at 1st base were enough to get HIM on the ballot). Just as important are utility players like Bill Hall (.268, 16 HRs, 39 RBIs) are not up for consideration. Granted, those numbers do not make someone like Hall a shoe-in, but before his recent struggles he was batting around .300 while putting up great power numbers...and yet, could only receive write-in votes.
The fact that you need to have a position to receieve a spot on the ballot is just one of the problems with the current voting system. The bigger one, however, is that fans are generally idiots and/or homers. For more on that, I turn it over to Gene...


For a guy who was drafted way higher than he should have been, you've got to feel for Renaldo Balkman

...because who the hell wants to play for the Knicks right now?

Isiah Thomas said, "The guys that we have, we'll make them better and we have a job to do. Nobody's coming to save us."

Note the part where he says nobody's coming to save the New York Knicks. Well, drafting Josh Boone or Jordan Farmar might have helped. Instead they wasted two first-round picks on a guy who has athleticism, but not much else (Dameon Mason is also an incredible athlete), and a guy who has absolutely no athleticism.

Meanwhile, Larry Brown is trying to get paid, while the Knicks are falling back on his roadside interviews to void his contract. And, oh yeah, they still have Stephon Marbury AND Steve Francis.

If Isiah's coaching skills are anything like his GM skills, we could be looking at the


Yet another sad story in the world of sports

YCS extends its sympathies to the family of Northwestern head coach Randy Walker. Walker, 52, died of a heart attack Thursday night.


One of the most spectacularly poorly-written articles I've ever read.

Every now and then, an article from a writer for a major metropolitan newspaper comes along. These articles are rare because almost every single sentence needs correction, and one can only assume the author did a Google search of his subject, read for 2 minutes, then started writing.

Before I even get started on Philadelphia area writer Brad Wilson's piece on the state of American soccer, I gotta point out that his file photo makes him look like a deranged villain stock character from a Batman cartoon. As for his article, I'm all for people taking shots at soccer, but for Chrissakes know what you're talking about.

Really jazzed up by the World Cup? Do Ronaldo and Lucas Podolski and Thierry Henry have you pumped up to watch some world-class soccer in person? Can't wait to take the kids out to watch a game live? Sadly, disappointment awaits.
---After a lackluster introduction perhaps more fitting to a 10th-grade Creative Writing essay ("jazzed up?") He proceeds to make three ridiculous statements in one three-sentence paragraph. Go.

1) Philadelphia doesn't have a Major League Soccer team.
---I'm sure Philly-area soccer fans didn't know this already, and Philly-area non-soccer fans are not surprised.

2) It never has had an MLS team.
---I'm sure Philly fans didn't know this either. Likewise, the league is only in its 11th season, nearly went out of business 5 years ago and already has teams in New York and DC, each within a 2 hour drive of Philly. Cut them some slack.

3) Columbus, Ohio has one. Philadelphia does not.
---Columbus delivered a stadium. Philly had the Vet when the league was founded, and you can't play top-flight soccer on asphalt painted green, no matter how hard you try. When the Linc was built, Jeffrey Lurie wouldn't allow an MLS team in his stadium. If you can find a Philly-area investor willing to pony up the $15 million expansion fee, and plans for a soccer-specific stadium, you will have a team. Wilson's 0-for-3 off the bat.

Professional soccer hasn't existed in Philadelphia since the Fury of the North American Soccer League (NASL) folded in 1980. (Yes, I know about the Kixx. Whatever they call that game they play, it isn't soccer.)
---As far as a Division 1 men's league, no, but the WUSA, Women's World Cup, and international club friendlies have been held in Philly in the past 5 years. The game the Kixx play is called "indoor soccer." Good work showing your knowledge of the subject and depth of research so that you don't even know the name of the game you're trying to ridicule.

MLS is scheduled to arrive, tardily, in 2009...
---Tardily? Is someone taking attendance? Also, that is the LATEST it will arrive. I am hearing from some reputable sources that MLS may be in the Philadelphia area as early as NEXT SEASON! This courtesy of the potential relocation of the Kansas City Wizards, who are having trouble securing a stadium. Hopefully then Wilson can put his Columbus envy to bed.

...but it will be coming to Glassboro, N.J. That's not right around the corner. In fact, it's not near much of anything, and good luck getting there without a car.
---Glassboro is a 30 minute drive from downtown Philadelphia, and just off a major highway. In Chicago/Milwaukee parlance, this would be like saying that Oak Brook and Mequon are in the middle of nowhere.

Then again, a stadium stuck out on the outskirts of a small South Jersey college town is just the place for MLS...
---Yea, no kidding, especially since Rowan University in Glassboro said they'd build any team that came to the Philly area a stadium. organization whose think-small attitude relegates it to soccer's third tier internationally.
---Actually, I would consider it the lack of absurd amounts of money and as such, the resulting style of play that relegates it. I'd rank it more 2nd-tier, because outside of England, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, I'd put MLS right with any other league in the world. But that's my opinion. I'm also interested in hearing why he thinks a league that has survived 10 seasons longer than anyone thought it would is "thinking small."

Given the caliber of players it attracts, Minor League Soccer would be a better name. U.S. World Cup coach Bruce Arena didn't do MLS any favors by saying — correctly, by the way — that the best U.S. players need to play more in Europe and less here.
---Haha clever word play on the initials MLS. By only changing two letters you made a lame pun. MLS sucks, and yet somehow this same Bruce Arena managed to get his job by leading DC United to three MLS title games in three years- winning two. His 2002 and 2006 23-man rosters both contained 11 MLS-based players. As for his European contingent in 2006, 7 of 12 had MLS experience. Arena is right that the competition is better in Europe, but don't interpret his comments as a knock on MLS. That's like bashing college football because the tougher competition is in the NFL.

So if we're not going to keep our own best players, don't expect to see Kaka or Wayne Rooney here anytime soon.
---First of all...."we"? Second, Rooney is 21 years old and has a contract with Manchester United. Kaka is not much older and plays for AC Milan. Neither Rooney nor Kaka have expressed interest in playing for MLS. However, other European-based stars like Brian McBride, David Beckham, Michael Ballack, and Ronaldo have all expressed interest in finishing their careers in America. As for a more specific point, Kaka and Rooney both played at Giants Stadium in friendlies last year. I guess the less than two-hour drive to East Rutherford was too far.

MLS doesn't think big.
---Here we go again. MLS is apparently a person capable of sentient thought.

It wants smallish soccer-only stadiums, preferably in the suburbs, populated by players few have ever heard of.
---Again with the personification of the league. Damn MLS trying to control their revenue streams instead of paying rent to NFL teams. Damn MLS for trying to create some atmosphere and demand for their product by decreasing the supply of seats. By his logic, most Broadway blockbusters think small because they only play to theatres of a thousand seats or so, using performers no one has ever heard of. I wonder if the NBA thinks small because their arenas are in the 18-25,000 seat range, just like MLS stadia. As for the suburbs, its all about where there's cheap land, and what municipality will give the best deal. Ever hear of Auburn Hills, MI or East Rutherford, NJ or Landover, MD or Orchard Park, NY or Foxboro, MA, or Irving, TX?

The idea seems to copy minor league baseball's formula, where fans pay more attention to the Hot Dog Race sponsored by Jimmy-Bob's Chevrolet than to the game.
---Looks like we know who's been to a few minor league games here. With this intricate knowledge of minor league baseball, his theories on MLS's business model must surely be well-thought out and valid.

Gee, that's inspiring.
---Thanks. That's not the league's job...or anyone's be "inspring." Perhaps you'd like to go to a Sixers game instead and hear the inspiring atmosphere of 18,000 fans talking to each other at the same time, not watching the game and listening to the piped-in voices going "DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE!" Now THAT'S inspiring.

The only time soccer has made a huge impact on the U.S. professional scene is when owners opened up their checkbooks in the late 1970's and brought in the world's best players, such as Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. That certainly made a splash, attracting all kinds of media attention and doubling attendance...
---Wow. This sounds like a great plan for MLS to adopt. Especially since NASL average attendance was about what the lowest-drawing MLS teams pull in today, and those NASL results are inflated because of all the tickets that were just given away.

...but it also quadrupled costs and the NASL sank in 1984.
---Hmmm...maybe it wasn't such a good plan after all...Perhaps there's a benefit to signing young up-and-coming players and retiring veterans and not blowing money on world-beaters in their prime. Buy low, sell high?

So unless MLS can print its own money...
---That power is reserved to Congress under the enumerated powers in Article I of the Constitution, coincidentally authored in Philadelphia...OK, maybe I'm being too hard on the guy...

...the world's best players aren't coming here anytime soon, That means that MLS' dreams of big crowds and more attention will stay fantasies
---No I'm not. MLS's average attendance is up almost 10% since 2000. Show me any "Big Four" league that can boast that kind of growth. Cities (like Philly) are now BIDDING for MLS teams, rather than having to accomodate them around their football teams. ESPN broadcasted all 64 games of the World Cup, and MLS has signed a new lucrative TV contract.

given that Americans only care about a sport if 1) Americans dominate it...
---USA Basketball: 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalists, 2002 World Championships- 6th place. The US has only won that tournament three times in 14 attempts. USA Hockey: Bounced from World Cup of Hockey by Finland, only 2 Olympic medals since 1961 in a sport where only about 10 countries compete. USA Baseball: Bounced in second round of 2006 World Baseball Classic. This outing included losses to traditional baseball powerhouses like Mexico, South Korea and Canada.

...and/or 2) the world's best players play here.
---On the Argentine team that won the gold medal and beat the United States in the Olympic semifinals in 2004, only 2 out of 12 players on the roster played in the NBA in the 2003-04 season. Nearly the entire USA roster had played in the NBA the previous year.

When neither case applies, as in soccer (or Formula One, to use another example) nobody cares. What's a newly-minted soccer fan to do? First, get satellite TV or digital cable. There are more top-shelf games shown there than even the most rabid fan could possibly watch in a week...
---But if the US team isn't dominating, and the best players aren't playing in the US, why would anyone care to buy a satellite TV package to watch this silly sport?

...But TV, as good as it is, isn't live action.
---Again. Then why get the package if it isn't as good as live action? Admit that you can like a sport if the best players aren't in the US or go to a live game where the players are better than anyone else in the stadium, but haven't been discovered by the top leagues yet. Just pick one!

European professional teams often play exhibition matches here in August, before their season opens, and while the intensity isn't World Cup-level, the managers generally play their stars and the teams do try and win, much more so than in an NFL preseason game. Manchester United and Celtic (of Glasgow) played at the Linc in 2004, drew 55,000 fans, and when Celtic won in a stunner its supporters went wild with delight. These games are not your typical “exhibition” games. If one pops up nearby, go.
---Correct, but off. Correct in that the intensity to win is there, but I imagine it is more from the supporters than the players. There's about 50,000 people who watched Manchester United's third-stringers tie Bayern Munich's reserves 0-0 at Soldier Field two years ago that would like their 50-plus dollars back. Also, why care if the best players play for leagues in other countries?

Still, there just aren't going to be many chances to watch world-class play live in the U.S. anytime soon.
---I'm assuming he means aside from the 11 players on the US National team roster who play in MLS, and international friendlies in July and August featuring Scottish Champs Celtic FC, European champion FC Barcelona, Chelsea FC and Everton of the English Premier League, Real Madrid, and tours from Mexican powerhouses Chivas, Tigres, and Club America.

But don't despair. Who needs the pros anyway? Take in AC Milan and Liverpool and Barcelona on your digital cable, and then go out and watch some high school kids play. It's the same sport, the kids play just as hard, and at many area schools, such as Germantown Academy, Archbishop Wood, and Souderton, the level of play is extremely high. And the price is unquestionably right.
---Who needs the pros? You just said the American sports fan did! Nobody cares if there isn't a US Premier League taking on the giants of Europe, remember? Your solution is high school soccer? MLS isn't worth anyone's time, but the high school kids play just as hard as the European professionals? What makes MLS players mail it in then? Your argument doesn't make any sense. As for the price being right, MLS tickets start as low as $10-20 and you get a great seat.

It's not World Cup soccer, surely — but it can be just as much fun. And who knows? Two 2006 U.S. World Cup players played in GA's league. You might see the next Brian McBride — and since you're not going to see the current McBride in person, that's what fans will have to settle for.
---This is the best argument IN FAVOR of MLS that I've heard. It may not be perfect, but it can still be fun.



A Little More On What Zuch Said

>> Thursday

Someone explain this:

"This week, the Bears doled out two contract extensions -- a five-year one to linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, and a three-year one to running back Adrian Peterson. But there were no extensions on the near horizon for linebacker Lance Briggs, cornerback Nathan Vasher and running back Thomas Jones, each of whom missed at least a portion of Chicago's Organized Team Activities in a form of protest."

Last year Adrian Peterson rushed a career-high 76 times for 391 yards (5.1 average). Now, those numbers, while limited are certainly not bad. But three years??? THREE YEARS???

Now, NFL contracts are special because the length really doesn't matter because front offices can terminate the deals whenever they want to, so the Bears aren't really locked into Adrian Peterson (the sucky pro, not the awesome college kid, mind you) for any real amount of time.

But come on, what are they accomplishing by giving Adrian Peterson a three-year deal? Is this setting some sort of symbolic example for the rest of the team? As far as I know, Adrian Peterson is still third on the Bears depth chart behind Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson (who they're already paying first round pick money) and hasn't shown any signs of being on the virge of a breakout season.

Also, I don't see any reason, whatsoever, at all, in any way, shape or form, that the Bears haven't given Lance Briggs his money. Mind you, as a Packers fan I hope they never do and he goes to play in a different division while the Bears keep giving money to guys like Adrian Peterson and Hunter Hillenmeyer (a former Packers castoff, woo!). Seriously, Briggs can flat out play and if the Bears let him get to the open market they're going to get into a bidding war that they can't win.

As for Vasher, he may be a one-year wonder, the jury's still out. I'm not really in favor of giving him his money right away because you never know what kind of effect that will have on an individual player. But, the Bears should be ready to lock him up if he continues to show the same kind of ability this year as he did in his breakout season last year.

And then there's Thomas Jones. At 27 (he'll be 28 on opening weekend) he's not quite yet at the age where running backs start to slow down. Though durability has been a concern throughout his career, it's a surprise to me that the Bears chose to give Adrian Peterson a three-year deal while seemingly alienating a proven rusher. Maybe they think Jones is soft and Peterson is poised for a breakout season. Maybe they're going to ride out Jones' current contract and then dump him in favor of youth. Maybe they're going to part ways with Jones to make room for Cedric Benson. Who knows. But the situation at running back highlights the greater issue that the Bears, like a lot of NFL franchises seem to overrate stagnancy in a market that is constantly changing and necessitates multiple moves every year to remain competitive. In the NFL, teams that stay too much the same get passed by the teams that go out and improve outside of their ranks. Winning doesn't come from resigning Hunter Hillenmeyer and Adrian Peterson and giving free agent money to Brian Griese.


Articles Like This Are What Happens When The NFL Offseason Gets Boring

The current front page of is funny for a couple of reasons.

1. It's features a story about Jay Fiedler, which is plenty funny on its own.
2. The brief of the article is as follows:
"Jay Fiedler returns to Florida after signing a one-year deal with the Bucs. And as Adam Schefter writes, he becomes the first QB to play for the three Florida teams."

As Adam Schefter writes? Didn't you just already tell me that? I mean, it's not like you're making some abstract claim that's going to really need a whole article worth of evidence to be justified. Chances are I'm just gonna believe you, since I remember that Jay Fiedler already played for Miami and Jacksonville. I don't really need a whole article to tell me what you just accomplished (pretty succinctly, I might add) in one sentence.


History Repeats Itself

Man, this seems like the typical offseason following a fluke Bears run. Football publications assuming the Bears would repeat their magical run and win the division again, major parts of the defense not receiving contract extensions and now this. Hey Angelo, does the name Bryan Robinson ring a bell? Signing mediocre players to long term contracts may fool many Bears fans into thinking you care about keeping the defense together. When Lance Briggs leaves next offseason because you're not willing to pay the big bucks to keep him, at least we'll have a slow white linebacker who makes one big play a season.


Another Serious Post

Lamar Odom's infant son died today from an apparent suffocation in his crib.

YCS wishes its most serious condolences for the tragedy.


You Can Come Out Of A Coma?!?!?!

Headline from (who, by the way, Zuch, also compared Novak to Matt Bullard, so get all up on their asses, too, bird-dog!):

Prognosis negative: Punt on Peavy but not on Dunn

I don't know if they actually had the Seinfeld episode in mind when they wrote that headline, but I really, really hope so.

Also, nice alliteration, nameless, faceless headline writer at sportsline!


Dipshit of the Day

Besides unnecessarily ripping Marquette's own Steve Novak, this writer shows his complete lack of basketball knowledge by ripping the Rockets 2nd round draft pick. Last time I checked, when you have two players in T-Mac and Yao who both constantly draw double teams, having an accurate outside shooter like Novak on the court can really punish a defense. Of course, I'm guessing the next Steve Novak game he's watched will be his first, but nothing like making a Matt Bullard comparison before he even plays an NBA game (Personally, I think he'll be somewhere in between Kyle Korver and Peja). Even better for the hometown columnist is the fact that the Rockets did not have a single player shoot 40 percent from three last season. Man, they must really be giving away journalism degrees these days.


Creepy Frenchman stalks, damns footballers

Nike has been running an ad campaign during the World Cup called "Joga Bonito" or "Play Beautiful" to piggyback the popularity of the Brazilian team, which when on its game (and sponsored by Nike), plays some of the most beautiful soccer anywhere.

The commercials are led by this creepy French guy (Former French International and Manchester United player Eric Cantona), sending messages to the players who are ruining soccer (divers, actors, shirt-pullers, etc.) while also praising what makes a good team and good, visually attractive soccer.

I think they might be going to far here. In a commercial with a message targeting "time-wasters," this dirty Frenchmen damns them to Hell, and then announces his intent to stalk the players who continue their evil practices.



With Pearly Whites Like Those, He Couldn't Possibly Be a Bad Guy

I just noticed Brett Meyers' player profile photo for the first time this morning. I wonder if he was wearing that expression when he beat his wife and left her on the street. I'd be afraid he were going to eat me. I also like to picture that episode with him in full uniform, just like the players reading to needy kids in those MLB charity comercials.

By the way, apparently Meyers was optioned yesterday.


How the Experts Rate the Chicago Bulls' Draft

Text message received last night at 7:59pm from YCS draft wiz Matt (Zuch) Zuchowski:


Yellow Chair Sports--your home for the best in draft analysis.


I Will Never, in All My Days, Forget the Night Georghe Muresan Uttered "I Love This Game" in Broken English

>> Wednesday

What can I say. I love the NBA Draft. In celebration of that, here are some senseless observations from tonight.

-David Stern's fumbling over foreign dudes' names will never cease being hilarious.

-If all the trades tonight weren't confusing enough to track, we had to have the Roy-for-Foye trade. As for the tradin'-est team of the night, the Portland Trail Blazers, all I have to say is this: You can shuffle your roster 'til you're blue in the face, but it won't bring back Rasheed Wallace.

-If Hilton Armstrong struggles in the NBA, how long until someone makes the inevatable quip, "Hilton Armstrong is playing more like Paris Hilton out there!"

-The Bulls at this point are so international, it's become comical. I'm almost tempted to make whatever terrible U.N. or green card joke Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Tribune has up his sleeve. But seriously--Switzerland, Sudan, Argentina, England, and if Luke Schenscher is retained (God willing), Australia. Oh yeah, and Compton (ba-dum, cshhh!).

-J.J. Reddick's post-pick interview was definitely half-scripted by his lawyer.

-Worst bombed joke of the night: Jay Bilas comparing the trading frenzy to a half price sale at Lids. I still don't think I get it. (Nor did anyone on their expert panel.)

-Funniest Freudian slip of the night: Rudy Gay, in response to whether doubts about his motivation to succeed were fair: "No, not at all. I plan to be one of the best players I can. (Paraphrased)" He quickly corrected himself but it was still funny.

-Rajon Rondo stinks, and I can't believe he was picked ahead of Marcus Williams and Jordan Farmar.

-How fitting: the guy with the five-word name (Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza) goes to the team with two cities and five words in theirs. Kind of sucks for anyone who'll have to introduce him at a public appearance.

-Lastly, though I generally don't mind ESPN's basketball experts or Dick Vitale, I can't believe the number of times the following two sentence constructions were used:
1) "Player X has the [chance/potential] to be a [pretty/really] good NBA player."
2) "Player Y can [flat-out/absolutely] [shoot/score/defend]."

Sentence construction #1 is obnoxiously open-ended and obvious. Taking a guy with a chance to be good a basketball player seems like a pretty intuitive goal for a basketball draft. Even better would be to take someone who will be a good basketball player, or better still, is a good basketball player.

Sentence construction #2 just gets old. Please find some new ways to emphasize a player's best skill, Greg, Jay, Dickie, and Stephen A.





This May Be Piling On...

But I don't care. The headline of another Mike Celizic article today is "NBA draft lacks buzz, and perhaps, talent." The article is the usual crap (rated 2 out of 5 stars by MSNBC visitors), but what's even funnier is the subheadline: "With no can't-miss prospects, this could be worst selections since 2000." You're right, Mike C, this could be the worst selections in a long time.

All your base are belong to Mike Celizic.


I Know There Is A Certain Other Blogger On This Site That Would Have Something To Say About This...

But isn't it funny that during ESPN's coverage of the NBA Draft, whenever a Duke player is drafted, they go to Dick Vitale for an analysis? And Dickie V's rant is always preceeded by Dan Patrick saying, "Dick, you saw a lot of him last year." What, is ESPN just flaunting their east coast bias now? What the hell? Come on. Smug bastards.


This Will Make Vinnie Happy...

Headline on's NFL site previewing next year's draft class and a certain QB from Notre Dame:

"Mighty Quinn"




I'm tired of hearing people claim that Spain "peaked too early" at the World Cup after their 3-1 loss to France in the Round of 16. Not because of Spain's 3 victories in group play, but because it's a stupid phrase with no meaning.

The whole concept of "peaking" is absurd. What "peaking early" essentially means is that they won games before losing their last game (or not qualifying for the next round). By this logic, then 29 baseball teams each year peak early at some point in the season. 31 teams will "peak too early" in this World Cup. On the other side, if Spain had lost in the World Cup Final, then in two years won their first three qualifying matches for World Cup 2010, would any writer/commentator say with assertion that they had peaked too late? Of course not. If peaking late is absurd, why is peaking early such a commonly used turn of phrase?

Peaking is something sportswriters like to talk about when they've run out of relevant things to talk about. What do you know? There's no matches for two days, and we have to fill web page space on ESPNSoccernet.

Peaking- also know as "winning" has everything to do with the individual/team/coaching/home field/weather matchups. It has nothing to do with a team carefully controlling the pace of winning its games- throttling up and down on the momentum like a stick shift to ensure that they don't peak early.


Oh Man

From an podcast description: "Alan Schwarz and Steve Phillips discuss Roger Clemens falling to 0-2." Now, I didn't download or listen to the podcast, but I'm going to assume that the conversation went something like this:

Alan Schwarz: Did you see that the Rocket is 0-2?

Steve Phillips: Yeah, that's terrible. I guess he really doesn't have as much left in the tank as we all thought.

Alan Schwarz: I guess not.

Giant Elephant In The Room Neither One Of Them Want To Acknowledge: Wins and losses are a stupid metric of a pitcher's performance. Roger Clemens has a 2.38 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. The Astros didn't score for him last year when he should have won the Cy Young and thus far it looks like more of the same.

Steve Phillips: Hey, speaking of baseball, remember when I almost ruined the Mets forever?

Alan Schwarz: Yeah, that was awesome!

Steve Phillips: Wanna make out?

Alan Schwarz: Let's do it!

Yellow Chair Sports: Your daily source for baseball, football, soccer, basketball and unwarranted personal attacks.


In Bizarro World, The Words Write Mike Celizic!

This latest article is a real gem, even by Mike Celizic standards.

For seven years, most of them brilliant, Pedro Martinez gave the Boston Red Sox everything he had and everything they could have wanted. He copped two Cy Young Awards, won 117 games against just 37 losses — a .760 winning percentage — and he won a game in the 2004 World Series in which the Red Sox broke their 85-year run of futility.

Yes, that's true.

Considering all he’s done for Boston, there’s just one thing the Fenway faithful can possibly do when he scales the Fenway Park mound Wednesday night for the first time since chasing the free-agent bonanza to the New York Mets after the 2004 season.

Even though I know what you're going to say next, I really, really REALLY wish the next sentence of this article would make some sense. However...

They’ve got to boo him like no one not named Roger Clemens has ever been booed in Boston’s little jewel of a ballpark. They’ve got to hiss and scream and bellow until the air is congested with spittle. They’ve got to boo his backside back to that mango tree in the Dominican Republic he once talked about sitting under.

"No one not named Roger Clemens?" That's a pretty kickass double-negative there, Mikey.

Atrocious grammar aside, you know how at baseball games when people boo a pitcher when he throws over to first or takes a long time to get the signs right with the catcher? And then you, as a normal, rational human being are like "wait, why are they booing? Who's the moron that started this booing?" Well, stupid behavior like that is born from the encouragement of classless assholes like Mike Celizic. Why, Mike Celizic, should Boston boo someone who even you say "gave the Boston Red Sox everything he had and everything they could have wanted." You must have a rationale for this, right Mike?

For the fans, Pedro’s return to Fenway shouldn’t be about doing what’s right by their former hero.

Yeah, you're right, all that clown ever did was go 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA in Boston.


If sports started working that way, the entire player-fan dynamic would be turned on its head.

You mean the "player-fan dynamic" where players bust their asses for a team for close to a decade and then aren't resigned because their former team vastly undervalues their ability to still play the game? And then they come back and pitch against the team that they helped win a World Series and get booed by a bunch of stupid assholes from Boston egged on by a know-nothing writer from That player-fan dynamic?

Is this the same player-fan dynamic that encourages an idiot in the stands to throw beer on a basketball player during a game and incite what basically amounts to a riot?

Or is it the player-fan dynamic that allows two drunk trashbags from Chicago to rush the field and attack the third base umpire?

Oh, no, wait, maybe it's the one that makes people go absolutely insane to the point where they actually get into a brawl with players in the bullpen, leading to a fan getting hit in the face with a folding chair? That sacred player-fan dynamic?

What the fuck is Mike Celizic talking about?

He used to play there, and then he went to not just another town, but to the hated Big Apple. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t sign with the New York Yankees,

Yes it does.

because the Mets haven’t occupied a terribly choice piece of real estate in Boston hearts since 1986 and that episode with Bill Buckner.

Just how often, Mike Celizic, do you hear about bad blood between the Mets and the Red Sox? Isn't most of the blame for the '86 World Series usually placed on the shoulders of that Bill Buckner guy?

Seems to me that those cats from Boston have enough sense to know that in 1986 the Mets didn't cheat, they know that the Red Sox (all of them, mind you, not just Bill Buckner) blew the World Series.

It also doesn’t matter that he left Boston because the Mets offered him more money for more years than the Red Sox were willing to pay.

Yes it does.

Nor does it matter that a substantial number of Boston fans felt the team was making a good move by letting him go.

Yes it does.

He did, after all, have a talent for saying annoying things, and, as everyone knew, his shoulder was damaged goods, and his arm was probably going to fall off within the next month or two anyway.

Fall off? Probably going to fall off?

The really, really smart baseball people said that the Mets were fools to give a guy like that four years, when the odds were high he wouldn’t last that long.

So, let's review.

It was a good move for Boston to let Pedro go, because his shoulder was "damaged goods" and his arm, according to Mike Celizic, M.D. was going to fall off.

As such, it was a bad move for the Mets to sign Pedro to a long contract.

Pedro has done well in New York.

Pedro helped Boston win its only World Series in the past 9 decades.

Thus, Red Sox fans should boo Pedro mercilessly, shout obsencities, racial slurs and veiled death threats at him and, for good measure, whip a few AA Duracells at him. After all, the Mets were stupid for signing him to a four year contract.

The point is that he left for another team, and no matter how justified he was in doing so, as long as he continues to perform at the highest level, the fans will see that as abandonment.

Even though, as you said, the Red Sox didn't really want him anymore and (once again, in your words) "a substantial number of Boston fans felt the team was making a good move by letting him go" and "as everyone knew, his shoulder was damaged goods, and his arm was probably going to fall off within the next month or two anyway." So, it's Pedro's fault that his career wasn't over and he's not washed up and because of that, he abandoned the Red Sox?

Anyway, I think my favorite part of the article is how convicted Mike Celizic is that he's right.

I’m just as confident that Red Sox Nation will come through on this one as I am that the coming fall lineup of network television shows will plumb new depths in personal abasement.

Zing! Take that, network TV execs! I love it when Mikey C goes pop culture on your ass.

I’m equally confident that a majority of commentators will spend the next day talking about what a shame it is that Boston’s fans didn’t give Pedro the love and respect he is due for all the great things he did for the franchise.

From "When Pedro Martinez returned to Boston on Tuesday for the first time since he signed a four-year, $53 million contract with the New York Mets more than 18 months ago, he walked into a den of love and happiness."

As such, I disagree, Mike Celizic.

If anything else happens — the fans cheering wildly or the commentators congratulating them for booing boisterously or no one taking notice of the occasion at all — I’d be as shocked as I would be if the president let slip that his favorite newspaper is The New York Times and his favorite news channel is MSNBC.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! I know, both those things would surprise me too!

I’d also be as disappointed as I’d be if I set out to construct a hot fudge sundae and discovered I was out of whipped cream.

A hot fudge sundae without whipped cream is the best analogy you can come up with to describe extreme disappointment?

Dear God.


NBA Draft Thoughts

In my long awaited return to YCS, I will give my thought on tonight's NBA Selection Meeting.

Just say no to Tyrus Thomas-Even Jay Bilas, a man I greatly respect, has been fooled by Mr. Thomas's potential. However, like Kwame Brown and Tyson Chandler, some day there will be an unemployed GM regretting they gambled on potential instead of taking the sure thing like Randy Foye and Brandon Roy.

The next great Euro-I have become sold on one Andrea Bargnani, and feel he will be much closer to Dirk than Darko. Unlike many European busts before, Bargnani has produced for one of Italy's top teams, Bennetton Treviso, averaging 11 points and 4 boards a game. There's a good chance that five years from now, Bargnani will be the best player produced from this draft.

College Seniors Reign Supreme-It looks like three college seniors-Foye, Roy and Shelden Williams will be drafted in top 8, a rarity in today's undeveloped potential NBA. All three have spent four years at major programs-Villanova, Washington and Duke, improving their games and they will be instant impact players in the NBA. Roy will be my pick for next season's rookie of the year, and he compares very favorably to the Hawks Joe Johnson, one of the NBA's best kept secrets.

Production>>>>>>Potential-While many young players like Thomas, Rajon Rondo, Cedric Simmons and the bevy of Europeans will be drafted over proven commodities like James White, Steve Novak, James Augustine and Mike Gansey, GM's will be brushing up their resumes while their projects are sitting on the bench and these aforementioned players help winning teams.

Don't let the media fool you-Apparently our NBA draft experts like to question Lamarcus Aldridge's heart and effort while praising the potential of guys like Thomas and Rudy Gay. Never mind the fact that Aldridge overcame a serious hip injury to become one of the Big 12's best players, improving his jump shot and starting to bulk up. Chris Bosh has proven you don't need to a hulking bruiser to be an effective NBA post player, and Aldridge has similar athletic skills to Bosh. The guy has already proven he can overcome adversity, and will prove these many doubters wrong.

In conclusion, while these may be my best educated guesses, it will always be a well-known fact that Jay Mariotti is a fag, and I'd like to thank Ozzie Guillen for telling it like it is, and tell Cub fans and the rest of the media to kiss the fattest part of my ass for creating another fabricated media storm. And Kenny Williams, shame on you for taking the bait and badly overreacting to the Booyah Network.


No World Cup till Friday...What else is coming up? Oh yea, All-star games. Pbbbbbbbbbt!

With the Round of 16 over, the national sides at the World Cup will break untill Friday, when the quarterfinals begin. In this time, there is little to talk about on the world football front, but there is something that made me think. For almost every national team, their roster represents a veritable All-Star team. For teams like England, it more or less IS their all-star team. Only two players on England's 23-man roster do not play in the English Premier League (David Beckham for Spain's Real Madrid and Owen Hargreaves for Germany's Bayern Munich)

Looking around these other countries, it seems that international competition IS their idea of an all-star team. In fact, the United States appears to be the only country (along with Canada, fine) that actually sends its players to All-star games. Fictional "Best XI" teams are formed, similar to our fantasy sports, but never real teams. Outside of sports popular in North America, actual games are rare. Why? Exactly the problem that most people complain about All-Star games today. All-star games don't mean anything. In fact, the first Major League Baseball All-Star game was the brainchild of a Chicago Tribune sportswriter, meant to be held in conjunction with the 1933 World's Fair as a one-time event. The first MLB All-star game WAS a matchup between two "fantasy" teams!

In the NFL, the all-star game is literally an afterthought. Taking place the week after the Super Bowl, it has given us such high-octane competitve moments such as Barry Switzer eating a hot dog on the sidelines during the game. Even the words "All-Star Game" are usually relegated to an afterthought in the logo.

I understand that Major League Baseball has changed the meaning of the Midsummer Classic by introducing the prize of home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star game. While this has added SOME drama, I remain unconvinced (and still think it's ridiculous that the team that finishes with the best record during the regular season may not get rewarded with home-field just because some schmuck who's only there because his last-place team needed a representative hits a game-winning bloop single because all the "stars" were subbed out in the 4th inning. Hoo. Breathe.)

That being said, All-Star games still remain on the whole, entirely pointless. The NBA and NHL work their All-star games on an East vs. West basis. Every time I hear announcers or analysts try to debate who will get the better of the other, the argument always strikes me as incredibly ludicrous with quotes like, "I think the West has all the power right now." What is this? 1864? Are these the fastest, high-flyin'est, root-toot-tootinest players this side of the Mississip'?
Same thing if I hear one announcer say that the National League's domination by the American League continues, as the NL has not won the All-star game since 1996. I'm sure the NL players are completely demoralized that this one game every year was lost to a team that outside of this game, doesn't exist.

Other leagues have experimented with different formats like USA vs. the World (MLS) or North America vs. the World (NHL), or my personal favorites, Young Guns vs. Old School (Lacrosse) and PlanetUSA vs. Canada (AHL). Man, if Canada wins 8 all-star games in a row, imagine how crushed those losing players would be. They gave their all for PlanetUSA. I hate all these concepts because no matter how much patriotism and flag-waving you wrap it up in, it's still going to be a team that doesn't exist outside of video game form after that night.

MLS has taken to a more interesting concept in recent years, but I feel it is still incomplete and largely irrelevant. A team of MLS all-stars, regardless of geographic, divisional, or national background takes on a foreign club. They beat Mexico's Chivas de Guadalajara in 2003, and England's Fulham FC in 2005. This year's contest will see the all-stars take on English Premier League champions Chelsea FC (who are considered by many an all-star team in a single club). In this game, every player on the field has a reason to bust his ass. All the MLS players are in it to show either that American soccer can be competitive abroad, or individual players are looking to impress their coach and score a tryout with the foreign club. The foreigners have the incentive of not looking like a bunch of schmucks losing to a bunch of hastily-assembled Yanks, and to help spread their club's support (and revenues) into the United States. However, even this system is not without its flaws. While there is incentive, the foreign sides have much more to lose if a player goes down with an injury. I also don't like it because in the end it is still a meaningless contest.

Now there could be other reasons for an all-star game. League/Conference supremacy? I can't see it. Since 1980, there have been 26 Major League Baseball All-Star games. The number of years where the team that has won the World Series had their league win the All-Star game is 14. 14 out of 26, essentially half. Even if you take out the strike-shortened 1994 season and the 2002 All-star game tie, the results differed in 10 out of 24 seasons. In the NFL, the conference that won the Pro Bowl matches the conference that won the Super Bowl in 13 out of 27 contests since 1980.

A chance to see all the great players on the court/field/rink at the same time? I don't buy that, and fan balloting is to blame. For the upcoming all-star games, fan balloting is incapable of identifying the best players. In MLS, the league's leading scorer, Ante Razov, has 10 goals and is on pace to be the first player in 4 years to score more than 20 in a season, but his name is on only 6% of the ballots. In the midfield, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are leading the vote, despite missing half the season for the World Cup. Freddy Adu is in third place among midfielders with his name on 21% of the ballots, but Adu hasn't scored a goal all season, and only scored 4 all of last season. In Major League Baseball All-Star voting, Washington's Alfonso Soriano is in 3rd place among NL outfielders. His OBP is .339. A tie for 54th in the NL, and 21st among NL outfielders. Todd Helton, who has an average of .311, and an OBP of .438 is not even in the running among first basemen, despite being the NL league leader in OBP among first basemen.

How about just a great game? Well...half a game if you're talking about the NBA All-Star game. In 2006, the average number of points per game for all 30 NBA teams was 97.0. The final score of the 2006 All-star game was East 122, West 120. In fact, the last time that an NBA All-Star team has been held under 100 points was 1973, when the East defeated the West 104-84. This was 6 years before the 3-point shot, but only 10 times in the game's history has a team failed to crack the century mark (out of 110 teams). If there's not going to be any defense played, then I'd like half my money back if I bought a ticket.

I'm not a fan of fan balloting, but if it's supposed to be a game for the fans, they should be able to pick. If it's a meaningful game, that's great, but even "meaningful" games disrupt the season and change the dynamics of players' seasons and occasionally, careers. As much as I try, every time an All-Star game rolls around, I just can't find a reason to care.


On A Serious Note...

The thoughts of everyone at YCS are with Peter Gammons and his family.


Were Gene Wojciechowski an Eighth-Grader in My Mom's English Class, I Might Be Amused

>> Tuesday

As it is, he's not, and therefore just an insufferable hack with a stupid, impossible-to-spell Polack last name. Seriously, if you're going to write something this contrived, it had better be at least kinda funny.

Ok, now here's what I want everyone to do. Scroll down to the middle-ish of the column. See where it has a link to his live chat on Thursday? I want everyone to click that link. Now, see that big box that says, "Got a question or comment--Say it here"? Click in it. Now, I want every YCS reader and member to do the following: Write Gene W'ski a question that pretends to take this lame attempt at humor seriously. And make sure you begin the question by calling him "Jean," and then throw in some mispellings for good measure. As in the following example:

"jean...i rellay love your collumn. i read your barbaro one the other was very interesting. i never new you were a horse whisperer! but i couldnt beleive how rude he was! i thought he'd have better perspctive after all he went through...didn't you?"

After you've sent your Barbaro comment, proceed with sending your run-of-the-mill hate mail. And post us your comment so that I know you've done your homework.

(Sorry everyone--I worked late tonight and am thus am too lazy to post anything besides spiteful attacks and racial slurs. I'll be back strong later in the week.)


Rob Neyer: God Among Men

Finally, someone with readership greater than the Blogosphere has said it. Here it is, in full text, Rob Neyer's article from about why the 'intangibles' in baseball mean absolutely shit (and by doing this, I'm sure I'm violating absolutely no copywright laws whatsoever). Thank you, Rob Neyer, for having some sense. We at YCS salute you.

When asked recently about his team's struggles, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said this: "We have to get better offensively. But I think it can happen. And when we get Darin Erstad back, that is a huge lift. People outside this clubhouse have no idea what he means to this team, how he pushes players, how his intensity rubs off, how he makes everyone else better."

Here's the thing, though: The people who make the important decisions don't actually believe any of this claptrap. Maybe in their hearts they do. But not in their heads, where most of the real work is done. The Angels did sign Erstad to a four-year, $32 million contract extension in 2002, when he was in the midst of a second straight lousy season. But in 2000 he'd batted .355 with 25 home runs, and even two years later, management must have thought the team would be getting some of that production in future years.

But of course it hasn't. Not even close. Erstad's contract -- finally, mercifully -- expires at the end of this season, and it's fair to assume neither the Angels nor any other team will offer Erstad a new contract that even remotely approaches his last one.

Did something happen to his "intangibles" in the last four years? Is he less intense, less of a presence in the clubhouse? Maybe. But probably not. Rather, Erstad simply can't hit -- or remain healthy enough to stay in the lineup -- the way he once could, and thus he's not worth $8 million per season to the Angels or anybody else.

A good player is worth $8 million to the right team, and a good player is two or three wins better than an average player. So if the Angels aren't willing to pay Erstad $8 million just for hanging around -- and with his outstanding defense, he's close to average when he's actually in the lineup -- then essentially they're saying they don't believe his intangibles are worth even two or three extra wins per season. Maybe they do believe Erstad's intangibles are worth one extra win … but then, one win is awfully close to zero, isn't it?

Still, if I ask you for specific evidence that intangibles play a big role in the game, you might, reasonably enough, say, "Well, I don't have any evidence, except this: Everybody in the game talks about intangibles." That's worth knowing, of course … but just because a significant number of people believe something -- or say they believe something -- does not mean it's true. According to a
2003 Harris poll, nearly a third of Americans believe in astrology.
No, not astronomy. Astrology, which is the belief that the alignment of the heavenly bodies on your birthday is linked to your personality and what's going to happen to you tomorrow. Also, roughly half the population believes ghosts exist. Not that ghosts might exist, mind you, that they do exist.

I don't mean to equate baseball's intangibles to the supernatural. I don't believe in astrology or the existence of ghosts. I do believe that intangibles exist, and that they occasionally do play a significant role in a team's fortunes. My point is that you don't have to believe in specific intangibles just because somebody else does. As Michael Shermer writes, "While expertise is useful for separating the wheat from the chaff, it is dangerous in that he might either (1) accept a wrong idea just because it was supported by someone we respect (false positive) or (2) reject a right idea just because it was supported by someone we disrespect (false negative). How do you avoid such errors? Examine the evidence."
And nobody seems to want to examine the evidence. Do Erstad's teammates really play better when he's in the lineup? Or rather, because he's in the lineup? I don't know, and neither does Scioscia. Do teams struggle immediately after suffering a dramatic loss? Do teams thrive immediately after gaining a dramatic victory? No and no, although there are a few hundred baseball writers who will tell you differently. (And I'm not exactly sure what most baseball writers believe, either. People will tell you Terry Pendleton and Kirk Gibson won MVP awards because of their intangibles … but when you actually check, you'll find that both players were deserving based purely on their measurable performance.)

Again, though, it's not that intangibles don't exist. Perhaps they do. It's that very, very few of us have any idea what they are, specifically. For every baseball writer or manager or general manager who really can identify the intangibles that mean something, there are a few dozen who are just guessing. Most of us just aren't that smart.

On this subject, I leave the final words to Sandy Koufax. Not because Sandy Koufax is necessarily right about everything but because he was (and probably still is) a pretty intelligent man, and because he serves as a useful counterpoint to all the other baseball people who are quoted to serve the purposes of people like me. So take it away, Sandy …

"In the end, it all comes down to talent. You can talk all you want about intangibles, I just don't know what that means. Talent makes winners, not intangibles. Can nice guys win? Sure, nice guys can win -- if they're nice guys with a lot of talent. Nice guys with a little talent finish fourth, and nice guys with no talent finish last."

Take that, most of the baseball-reporting world.


Someone looks to have gotten it right

Does anyone have ESPN insider that can read this article and see what Rob Neyer's argument is? I think Neyer is finally calling all of this moxy and grit for what it is: fluffy words that don't actually translate to results on the baseball field.


Just in case you haven't been paying attention...

>> Monday

The St. Louis Cardinals are on a seven-game skid, putting the Reds a game and a half from the division lead and the Brewers five games out.
The Reds are a pretty predictable collapse and the Brewers have a relatively easy upcoming schedule (as well as the much-anticipated return of Ben Sheets and J.J. Hardy). Carlos Lee shouldn't be booking travel plans just yet...



ESPY Nominations Are Out Holy Shit Oh My God I Wait All Year for This!!!!

I love how ESPN:
a) bothers having a wildly subjective awards show for a field already valuated objectively by its basic nature and then
b) loads it with categories more comically subjective than the concept itself.

I think the most hilarious of these voting categories is that for "Best Moment." The nominees:
-Kobe Bryant: 81 point game
-Dakota Dowd: LPGA attempt
-Josh McElwain: Manager, shooter
-George Mason: Final Four run

As there is clearly not the slightest attempt at a consistent definition of "moment," I propose a few additional, equally-legit nominees:
-Rasheed Wallace: 32+ years of existence
-Rawlings baseball: Being hit by Albert Pujols in NLCS
-David Eckstein: Helluva season
-Fluffstory McGee: Making us cry

Also, ESPN should probably be less obvious in their efforts to pin up niche sports and women's sports (See all categories).


Ozzie Guillen's Staunchest Advocate to Date? John Rocker

...Which, in itself, is not nearly as funny as this rather naive-sounding comment from an MLB official:

In response to Rocker's contention that he spent 15 minutes in sensitivity training before leaving the room, Levin said the Braves' employee assistance program informed MLB that Rocker fulfilled the requirements necessary to complete the training.

"What actually happened in those sensitivity classes, we don't know," Levin said. "He might have slept through the whole thing, but at the end of it, we did receive verification that he attended [the meetings]."

Is it just me, or does that not sound like "verification" at all? The Braves' employee assistance program? Why not just ask Rocker's mom? Then again, I'd like to think that Rocker did go, allowing me the image Rocker sitting in the back row of an empty classroom shooting spitballs and coughing the word "faggot" at his instructor.


Quote of the Tournament

...For both its ethnic colloquialism and rambling:

"I just can't believe it, mate," Australian forward Tim Cahill said. "We play all our lives to be honest on the pitch and to work hard and I suppose these days you fall over on the pitch and get a penalty, free kick whatever. It's disappointing. I'm furious. It's unbelievable. The luck we've had with refereeing decisions this World Cup. Everything's been against us."

(Remember--that's pronounced "a-gain-st us.")


Cliche: The Broadcaster's Greatest Asset

>> Sunday

Joe Morgan, tonight after a Willy Taveras 12th-inning stolen base:

"That's why I think the need to get him in the lineup more. He changes the flow (ding!) and rhythm of the game (ding!). When he's on base, he makes things happen (ding!). He hasn't gotten on base quite as much as the Astros would like, but when he does, it completely changes the rhythm (ding!) of the offense. And that's much better than waiting for the three-run homer (ding! ding! ding!)."


Brett Myers, YCS' Gentleman Of The Year

From an article in the Philadelphia Enquirer:

After pitching against the Red Sox yesterday, Brett Myers spoke at length for the first time since he was arrested after allegedly striking his wife, Kim, and leaving her crying on a Boston street corner in the wee hours of Friday morning.

Asked what he was feeling, what his state of mind was, and whether he was embarrassed by the situation, the 25-year-old pitcher responded: "I'm sorry it had to get public, that's it. Of course, it's embarrassing."

Thanks to players like Myers, it's easy to see why baseball has always been and still is considered a gentleman's game. Here's to you, Brett Myers. Somewhere (probably jail), Albert Belle is smiling.


What The Hell Is Going On With This Guy?

Prompted by Baseball Tonight's celebration of the greatness of Jose Reyes, I just looked up his numbers for the current season. To be honest, I expected him to be hitting somewhere in the low .300's and for ESPN to be overrating him...again. But, right now Jose Reyes is batting .302 and has an OBP of .361. Also, he's got two more walks than he had all of last season.

What the hell?


Random, But No Less Funny

This Onion article reminds me of what Joe Leonard Morgan would be like, were he a Medical Doctor.


From now on, Billy, things are gonna be alright...I just know it!

It's been real rough on the Cubs this year, but that's all gonna change. Sure, things aren't lookin' so good right now, but Derrek Lee's back to take all their troubles away. From now on, nothing but rainbows and creampuffs and dafodils with big lace doilies! It'll happen, Billy. You just gotta believe in miracles, and they'll come true. Miracles, Billy, miracles!


I Know There's a Certain Other Blog for This...

...But I don't mind piling on when the occasion warrants. Joe Morgan just now during the White Sox-Astros game said,

"I don't believe the White Sox would win without Ozzie Guillen."

Win what? The World Series? As many games? More games? Less games? The Highland Games? Is Joe Morgan implying that the White Sox would be 0-74 with another manager?

I'll boldly assume he's predicting the last one because it makes it makes him sound dumb.

(The chance to ridicule Joe Morgan and Ozzie Guillen--how could I resist?)


Rick Morrissey Has a Blog Called "Wake Up, Stupid"

I planned to describe Rick Morrissey's pomposity as a lead-in to this post, but that bit of self-caricaturization says more than I ever could. As does his picture, which makes him look like the sleazy, ass-grabbing boss from those sexual harassment videos.

His column today in the Chicago Tribune (sorry, registration may be required) was titled, "Wimpy soccer doesn't deliver for U.S. males." As unpopular as it may be to defend the sport of soccer on this blog, this particular column was so boorish and ignorant that we'd be remiss to let it slide. So let's do this.

If soccer doesn't toughen up, it will never be a major force in U.S.

That damned soccer--always getting pushed around and taken advantage of, letting people borrow his stuff and not getting it back. When's he just gonna learn to toughen up?

Things you won't hear from your average, red-blooded American male:
Honey, what book do you want to discuss this month?
• Would you mind if we just cuddled tonight?
• I'm pretty clear on what Phil Donahue would have done, but what would Oprah do?
• This World Cup soccer extravaganza—it's right up there with "Wicked," wouldn't you say?

Illiterate? Check. Insensitive? Hell yeah! Watch Phil Donahue? Would, if it were 1986. Hate Oprah? You betcha! Think the World Cup is worse than "Wicked"? I don't know what "Wicked" is, but it must be some womanly crap just like the World Cup because Rick Morrissey says so, and Rick Morrisey knows what it is to be a real red-blooded, sport-fishing, steak-eating, feminist-hating, porn-loving, child-beating, wife-beating man!

Let me know if I missed any other silly, gender stereotype cliches.

Now, I bring all of this up because, for many of us red-blooded American males (RAMs),

Cute...he assigned it an acronymn.

the enduring image of the 2006 World Cup will be:
American Claudio Reyna getting the ball stolen in front of the U.S. net by Ghana's Haminu Draman and Reyna immediately being carried off the pitch on a stretcher after Draman's easy goal.

An injury. Those certainly never occur in other sports.

I'm sorry, soccer fans, but it looked awfully wimpy. That's the image, though perhaps not the reality. As it turned out, Reyna had injured his left knee and later gamely tried to play on, but the damage was done—to the game of soccer in this country. All I could see was a huge population of RAMs rolling their eyes at how soft it looked without knowing the extent of the injury.

Actually, all I could see was the ceiling because I was rolling my eyes too.

So...a guy gets carried off the field, and you and your legions of RAMs--without any evidence--assume that the injury is not serious, only to find out later--in light of some evidence--that the injury kinda was serious and that Claudio Reyna is, in fact, quite "gamely" (what??) for being able to return but is still a wimp because your initial impulse told you.

I'm not saying that Morrissey is wrong; I'm just trying to make sure I understand him correctly so that I can add "quick to judgment" and "stubborn" to my list of "Qualities I Must Adopt to Become a Real Man."

Fair or not,

No matter what you're about to write, I'm betting on "not."

one of the problems the sport has in the United States is that it seems to be perfect for the faint of heart. Players are forever falling on the grass writhing in pain after minimal contact.

Didn't you know? Rick Morrissey has played soccer competetively since he was 18 months old. In fact, he played just last week in the Chicago Tribune-Chicago Sun Times charity soccer game and scored four goals--three of them after a vicious tackle from Rick Telander--and even did a backflip after the fourth. So he understands full well how tame the contact is in soccer.

In a country that lives for NFL Sundays, it's difficult to see a man in agony one moment and up on his feet, suddenly recovered, the next. I'm sure Ozzie Guillen would have a word for this.

Hahahaha, like "fag"?? I get it!

Topical, predictable--I love it.

Is that simplistic? Is that taking a few plays out of an otherwise good sport and passing judgment? Is that throwing the baby out with the bath water? Will I ever stop asking myself questions?

And I'd prefer if you'd stop writing altogether.

The answer is no.

But wait--that wasn't a question! You contradicted yourself! Arghh!!!! Can't... handle... the... logical... implications... world... crumbling...

These are important issues for soccer in the United States.

There are fundamental reasons why the sport hasn't taken off in this country the way its proponents have hoped it would for the last 30 years. There is something basically flawed about the game—or at least flawed in combination with something very elemental to our country.

We like things a little rough around here.

The player being carried off on a stretcher, the stretcher held by two men, it's so … so … so overly dramatic, so over the top as to be almost comical.

Take note Chicago paramedics: if you're ever called to Rick Morrissey's house after a freak swivel-chair accident, do not bring a stretcher. Let him drag that torn ligament down all five flights of stairs (I assume he lives in a mansion) and into the ambulance, lest his RAM neighbors point and laugh at his wimpiness.

Until soccer figures out a way to toughen itself up, it never, ever will be a force in the United States.

Again, why is he talking about soccer like it's a five year-old me?

For a nation raised on bare-fisted, county-fair boxing matches,

Did Rick once watch "Gentleman" Jim Corbett fight an eskimo for 120 rounds and still demand his nickel back? What living American was raised on bare-fisted boxing matches? How long ago was this even legal? Why does he keep using these stupid cliches?

for a nation whose pastime still includes beanball wars and raised spikes, the sight of all these theatrics is just too much to take.

Right, just like when NFL players kneel down and pray around an immobilized player while paramedics carefully take him off the field. What a bunch of stupid theatrics. Not good medical procedure, not solemn concern for fellow man. Theatrics.

We're not big on nuance.

I guess you're not big on any sport then. Or you just can't be bothered to understand them.

The onus is not on the rest of us in this country to embrace soccer. The onus is on soccer to deliver a product that meets the needs of our culture.

What??? A gazillion year-old sport that the rest of the world loves just fine in its current state should adapt itself (again, his personification of soccer is out of control) so that Americans will appreciate it--not for its unique qualities as sport but for sheer violence? What?

And, frankly, seeing players perform the suicide scenes in "Romeo and Juliet" with dramatic precision after every collision just doesn't fit us.

If somebody did that in an NFL game, he would get carted off the field all right—because someone else likely would have acted on a homicidal instinct.

"Uncontrollable homicidal rage." I'll add that one to my list also.

Tied in with all of this is that, in a tournament that has been full of incredible athleticism, the U.S. team lacked toughness. Would a U.S. team member like to start lifting weights? That probably would be a good idea for 2010. Did you happen to check out the upper bodies of Ghana's players? Think that might help a little while battling for the ball?

Our display didn't look close to the best athletes a nation of 280 million people could muster up.

But it's one thing to lack speed, which the United States surely did. It's another to be outmuscled, which the United States surely was. That's called a lack of training and preparation. And we looked like the rich kids who had the money to buy all the best equipment but didn't know how to play the game.

I don't even know where to begin. What's his evidence for any of those claims? Did he attend their weight-training sessions? Does he have the slightest knowledge of proper weight training for soccer? Did the U.S. really look outmuscled? underprepared? like rich kids? Or is Rick Morrissey just saying so because it allows him to impress whatever claim he wants onto a readership that mostly did not watch the game and probably knows even less about soccer than he does?

Also, I can't stand that "we're America and we're huge and rich and should be able to win at everything because we're America" attitude that people adopt when talking international competition. I especially hate when people employ that attitude regarding sports and athletes that they care nothing about and have no part in. "I don't know your name nor do I like your sport, but if you lose, you make me look bad."

The World Cup, in all its glory and weakness, is on stage. The play has been impressive, the pageantry almost as impressive. There's a lot to like about something this big.

But for us RAMs, there needs to be something a little more RAMly, for lack of a better term.


There needs to be a lot more players like England's Wayne Rooney, who was spitting fire when he was taken out of a recent game against Sweden, and fewer guys getting escorted off the pitch. On a stretcher.

"Soccer sucks because there's too many medics doing their job by exercising caution with injured players, and there's no tough soccer players except the one I just mentioned and the one I mentioned earlier when I was trying to illustrate how wimpy soccer players are, only to show how tough that player turned out to be after further inspection."

Sweet googly moogly.


Strikes Two and Three on Dave O'Brien

Watching World Cup matches called by Dave O'Brien/produced by ESPN has gotten almost comical. Three instances from this afternoon's England-Ecuador game stand out. The first was when Marcello Balboa called O'Brien out for completely misanalyzing the situation for the second time in a week.

Situation: England is struggling in about the 40th minute, tied 0-0 with Ecuador, England have been unable to feed the ball to striker Wayne Rooney, largely considered the core of this England team.

O'BRIEN: You look in the eyes of Wayne Rooney, and you can tell it's only a matter of time before he breaks free and puts it in the back of the Ecuador net.
BALBOA: Really? I see the exact opposite. He's saying, "Just give me the ball!!! Please!!!"

I don't know what was funnier, the fact that Balboa rebuked O'Brien again, or that they were arguing over something entirely subjective, completely irrelevant to the match, and impossible to know for certain without some sort of ESP.

The second moment came in the 60th minute when David Beckham scored the lone goal of the game on a free kick set piece, and O'Brien commented, "This is a great score by David Beckham because he puts it on goal." Thanks, Dave. As opposed to his ugly goals where they are shot outside the frame of the goal. Idiot.

Lastly came the studio discussion after the game. Brent Musburger thankfully defers to former US National team stars Eric Wynalda and Alexi Lalas for their expertise, but maybe he shouldn't. After showing a shot of David Beckham puking from dehydration on the field, Lalas commented, "And I'll bet he wasn't the only one in the stadium doing that, knowing how much English fans love their football." Wynalda rightfully challenged this failed attempt at humor. "So you're saying that people are puking all over the stadium?"



Funny Quote

>> Saturday

Billy Wagner, in a SportsCenter piece on closers:

"The best thing for a closer really is to be dumb and naive."

Mission accomplished, Billy.


Ozzie Guillen: straight thug

>> Friday

Ozzie Guillen: "I'll do what I have to do, at least when I have time, but I don't think I'll take those sensitivity lessons. I want to make it clear that I left school a long time ago and that I learned English in the streets. I have three boys at school and I am too old to return to a classroom."

Yo B, I learned how to talk good on the streets yo!

...probably spent his time on "the streets" while picking up the crack that he must be doing in the dugout. That would explain a lot. the way Oz, when the comish says you need to take classes, you have to take them. Does that translate? No es opcion!


Hasn't the Statute of Limitations Run Out on this Sorta Thing?

Tonight's WGN White Sox pregame coverage featured a fluff piece on Scot Podsednik's World Series Game 2 home run and the "momentum" it created.

Come on. That was eight months ago. We're 70-something games into the next season. Yeah, they're playing Houston, but whatever. It's super lame.


Tagline from a Car Commercial Featuring Ozzie Guillen:

"Gets the job done and looks good doing it...Sound like anyone you know?"

Hmm. Me? A young Paul Newman? Avery Johnson?

No? I give up.


The Danny Tartabull Episode of Seinfeld is on Right Now

Danny Tartabull

more Danny Tartabull


Proof that Old Farts in Arizona and Florida Can't Support this many Professional Sports

It's an older article, but an interesting read. I don't claim to know how they came up with these figures, but going with my own gut instincts it seems pretty legit. We've all brought up examples of Tampa and Phoenix before. The article shows economically which U.S. markets are most capable of supporting new expansion or relocated teams, and which markets are overextended.
It also lists what the writers think would be the best league to move into that city.

My only qualms with their study is in four of their ten most over-extended markets, teams are marketed to and draw from a more regional or statewide fan base (Twin Cities, Milwaukee, Denver, Phoenix). An additional one (St. Louis) draws from a much broader area than just the city, and includes some other cities, with Cardinals fans in Iowa, Louisville, Memphis and Peoria, IL.

I disagree with some oftheir "best markets." The worst in my mind was their assertion that Northern New Jersey is ripe for more teams. The Nets moving seem to contradict that finding.
I also disagree that the NHL is the ideal sport to place a team to place in Hartford. As much as I used to like the Hartford Whalers (I did. Shut up.), they failed once before and would need an entirely new arena if they wanted to compete. I know you're not surprised by my conclusion but even if I wasn't a fan I would say that MLS is the best fit for Hartford. 40,000-seat capacity Rentschler Field was recently constructed for the UConn football team in East Hartford, cost $91.2 million of taxpayer money and at present, only has one primary tenant, who uses the stadium for 5-6 dates a year. Rivalries with New York and New England would be quickly established, as they are within a three-hour drive of each other. The stadium has served as host to two US National team matches, both of which were well-received.

What do the Wisconsin residents on this blog think about the Milwaukee market being overextended? These calculations for Milwaukee did not include the Packers, Admirals, Wave, UWM, Marquette, or UW-Madison Basketball, Football, and Hockey. I'm not rubbing it in, I'm just curious if you think the market is oversaturated.


A Brief Commentary On Sportswriting

All right, it's time for me to get something off my chest that's been bugging me for a while. It's sort of born from all the Jay Mariotti shenannigans and sort of from Vinnie's delicious critique of Jason Whitlock.

Basically, it boils down to this: it is unfair and irresponsible for newspapers, ESPN and other news outlets to employ writers whose only real relevance is that they make outrageous claims and generate arguments about their work. Obviously, the reason that sportswriters do this is simple - it follows the theory that people will read their columns because "love 'em or hate 'em, you'll read 'em." This is stupid. If a writer's only merit is that he or she is able to make unsubstantiated claims that generate ill will toward him or herself, then they simply shouldn't be commenting on sports. Sportswriters, as people who should provide readers with a middle ground for perspective into the world of sports should be able to formulate arguments based on inside information, substantial research and above all, good sense.

Writers like Skip Bayless, Scoop Jackson, Jason Whitlock, Jay Mariotti and the rest should be held accountable for what is clearly subpar work, in terms of both skill and content. But above all, it is the responsibility of fans to ignore this trash and spend their time reading work with legitimate merit. Shocking claims, unsubstantiated arguments and inflammatory claims do not a sporswriter make.

Of course, the real problem is that oftentimes there isn't much available in the way of good sportswriting. But nevertheless, there are still some quality writers out there doing good work. Case in point: an awesome article by the Washington Post's Michael Wilbon about the death of Len Bias (it's from earlier this week, but it's really good so I thought I'd post it).

That's all for now, so excuse me while I get down off my high horse.


Jason Whitlock? More like Jason Wit-lack

>> Thursday

I don't know what to think about this Jason Whitlock column except that Jason Whitlock clearly suffers from Jason Wit-lack.

Count how many times he refers to the "Cuban Whistle Crisis." I count seven times that he says "Cuban Whistle Crisis," including the title, "Cuban Whistle Crisis." Why would he say "Cuban Whistle Crisis" so many times unless he suffers from Jason Wit-lack? I suppose he's only trying to give credit to his peer, Mike Wise. More like Mike Un-Wise if you ask me. Thanks to his Un-Wise and corny play on words, "Cuban Whistle Crisis," Jason Whitlock lets loose with his Jason Wit-lack.

Also, count how many allusions Whitlock makes to racially-charged topics. It's almost as tiring as his Jason Wit-lack.

"Cuban Whistle Crisis"--that's rich.

(Fuck you all. I need sleep. Everything's funny to me right now.)

P.S.: Wit-lack.


Bloggers helping bloggers

Nate's most recent entry contained some interesting comments, and certainly some are truer than others. Now I'm not gonna try to win Nate back as some soccer disciple, because it seems that’s a losing battle. I will however point out some pretty serious flaws in his arguments that undermine their credibility. As seemingly the Beautiful Game's only defender on this blog, I gotta respond, if anything for educational purposes, and to help Nate become a better soccer-basher.

Before I get started on the specifics: the fact that Nate took the time to write an article on the US losing and why he is not a soccer fan shows that he was paying attention during the World Cup. To then say that because it was "soccer" and as such he "didn't care" is like repeatedly calling your ex to tell her you are soooooo over her, or like a musical artist writing a song talking about how they haven't sold out. Don't care? Nate evidently cared enough to watch the games and write an article convincing us that he didn't care.

As for Nate’s point on diving, I absolutely agree. Tactics that call for and teams that embrace diving (cough cough Italy) have no place in the game. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say the refs are retarded and can't tell the difference. There simply just aren't enough of them to call the game correctly. In baseball, there are 4 umpires, and 6 for the playoffs. In more situations than not, the ump is right on top of the play, and can make a pretty good call. Same in the NBA: Small court- 3 refs. NFL, big field but a small army of officials (7 if I remember correctly). In soccer, there is only 1 ref, and only 2 linesmen (whose job is not to call fouls) to enforce the laws of the game in between 22 players on a 75 x 110-yard field. So naturally, in a faster-paced game than the NFL, baseball and basketball, the ref is not always going to be on top of the play, and may assume what he saw, or miss an obvious call. Even the addition of one extra ref would likely see a dramatic decrease in diving.

As for the running clock. Why is it that some soccer-haters abhor the idea of a running clock, yet think nothing of time stoppages specifically built into other sports (two-minute warning, tv-timeouts, etc.)? These stoppages seem to be built into the game for no other reason than to sell more commercial space so we can watch the Coors Light love train roll through Gillette Stadium again. As for knowing how much time is left, let's examine. Every game is 90 minutes long. Before or at the 90 minute mark, the 4th official must show how much stoppage time is left. From there, you should have a pretty good idea how much time is left (90+2 minutes of stoppage time = 92 minute game. MLS tried appealing to American sports fans with a downward counting clock that stopped at zero and other Americanizations of the rules in the league's early years. The American sports fan wasn't interested. Changing the clock won't get people who didn't like the game before into it.

Nate’s assertion that soccer is low scoring and has not taken any measures to increase scoring, unlike every other sport, is just plain false. To look for league-mandated rules on how baseball tried to increase scoring, the only reason I could think of would be the designated hitter rule. On the contrary, FIFA actually has taken measures to increase scoring and the level of attacking play. The new adidas ball, commissioned by FIFA has fewer panels, which make for a rounder ball enabling it to travel more accurately where the shooter wants it. Outfield players love the new ball, and goalkeepers hate it for the same reason. Another change is that in the past, World Cup group play only offered 2 points for a win and 1 for a tie. When teams played it safe for a tie rather than push forward and risk a loss, FIFA upped it to 3 points for a win, which in turn has encouraged more attacking soccer. A repeat of FIFA World Cup Italy 1990, where Argentina scored 5 goals in 7 games which was good enough for SECOND PLACE will not be seen again any time soon (Especially since in this World Cup, Argentina has already scored 8 goals in only 3 games.)

I quote Nate here because I’ve heard similar sentiment from many other soccer-haters. "I say let the rest of the world have their futbol. I'm perfectly happy with baseball, football, basketball, hockey, tennis and golf." The stereotypical insular retreat. Soccer-haters seem only happy with sports that either the United States is one of the best (Tennis, Basketball, golf) or is one of maybe 10 countries in the world who play it (Hockey, Baseball, Football). This brings up an interesting set of circumstances. If the Packers win the Super Bowl I have no doubt Nate will proudly proclaim them the "World Champions." Likewise, I see "World Champion Chicago White Sox" gear all over town. How can you call a team "World Champions" if they only play against teams from one or two countries? If the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL played any kind of meaningful competition against teams not from North America, then there could be some semblance of a “World Championship” or "World Series." The Super Bowl winner is certainly the best football team in the world, but they are not “World Champions.”

As for “Soccer is boring,” this is such a subjective call. I personally think that baseball is largely pretty boring. Next game you watch, take a stopwatch. Keep track of how often the ball is in play, being thrown by the pitcher, or even being thrown from the catcher back to the pitcher. Also keep track of how often nothing is happening. (Time between pitches, pitching changes, etc.) I have not performed this experiment, but I would wager that the amount of time where nothing is happening exceeds the time where something is happening by at least 2-to-1. In soccer, while there may not be a scoring chance every second, the ball is almost always in play, and something in the run of play is almost always happening, (Perhaps a reason for a running clock?)

“And Soccer players are pussies”- (See also: Brian McBride.) The man has about 5 metal plates in his face from past collisions, nearly gets his nose broken against Italy (which with the plates in his face could have caused some serious damage) and then comes back into the game and nearly scores a goal! Kerry Wood and Mark Prior complain of “crankiness” in their shoulders and are on the DL. Barry Bonds goes to the plate dressed in body armor despite the fact that he’s no small guy. In fact, out of the sports Nate listed as his favorites, aside from basketball, every one of them either has its players rarely or never coming into physical contact with each other (baseball, golf, tennis) or sends them out padded to the point where the league and people who follow it start to say “less padding could be better” (hockey, football). Soccer is the only sport I can think of aside from rugby and water polo where the players come in regular physical contact with each other, play a physical game and don’t wear padding. Yes, some soccer players act like pansies, but take a look around other sports and tell me they’re significantly wimpier than players in other sports in relation to the physical activity and force of unpadded collisions at full speed.

Not trying to convert anyone here, because with this crowd, I know I’m preaching to the deaf instead of preaching to the choir. But before soccer-haters lash out, they really should take a look at their own favorite sports and ask themselves if it’s really that different.


OH NO! THE U.S. LOST! Oh wait, it's soccer? Then why do I care?

In the words of Otto on trying to get a license, "I tried. Oh how I have tried" give a rat's ass about soccer.
It started with this year's phenomenal run by the Marquette women's soccer team. I went to a few of their games, including the two home playoff games, and had a lot of fun watching them and cheering the team on. With the World Cup coming up I decided maybe I should expand my horizons, become more cultured and all that, by becoming more of a soccer fan.
And after approximately eight months, I am eternally retiring as a professional soccer fan.
The first round of the Cup has proven to me that I personally, as well as this country in general, will never find soccer worth watching (especially not when it means getting up before 9:00 a.m.). A few reasons...

1. Flopping As Nick Poethig (the one soccer enthusiast in our house) pointed out, there are acting jobs in every "American" sport, specifically basketball. But the amount of overexaggerated injuries and flops in your average soccer game simply makes it unwatchable. Today a Ghana player got carried off the field on a stretcher for what appeared to be a side cramp. The deciding goal in the game was on a penalty kick that was essentially a result of a guy losing his footing.

The reason that this will always be a part of the game is because the rules of the game encourage it. I have never seen so many late whistles in any sport as I did in the first round of the Cup. If you get fouled and don't writhe on the ground in pain, don't expect the refs to call anything. On the flip side, if you get touched on hip and fall to the ground screaming and grabbing your leg, the opposing player gets a yellow card. Another rule that encourages acting jobs is limited subsitutions. Correct me if I'm wrong, but these don't apply to injury replacements, so if you're running out of energy and don't want to waste one of your team's subsitutions (or if your team is already out of them) you wait until you're touched and fall to the ground until a stretcher races out to take you into the locker. Another motivating factor is that if you turn the ball over, the other team is apparantly obliged to give you the ball back if you get "hurt." Two times in this morning's match the U.S. stole the ball and had a chance to break away, but the player guilty of the turnover laid in a heap of vag sand until the U.S. intentionally kicked the ball out of bounds.

As far as the flopping goes, the refs are absolutely horrible, and no one seems to mind that much. If an NBA player tried hitting the floor every time they were touched (or looked like they might have been touched) the refs would simply let the game go on. If you want a foul in the NBA, you have to draw serious contact. That doesn't mean that players don't flop, but they at least draw some actual contact to exaggerate. Exaggerating a shoulder to the chest is not nearly the same crime as exaggerating a dreadlock to the back of your head. So are soccer refs retarded? Can they actually NOT TELL the difference between a hard foul and an obvious flop? Probably not the case. More likely, in the game of soccer, a foul depends on the (faked) result more than the contact.

2. Running clock For some reason, the rest of the world has a boner for a clock that never stops. But here in the U.S. we want drama in our sports. And how the hell can you have drama when you don't even know how much time is left at the end of the game? A sport without last-second shots and buzzer beaters can hardly be considered a sport in this country.

3. Yellow cards This especially comes to play in the third game of the elimination round and every game here on out. Since yellow cards don't carry over into the next round, a player who has not received one yet is free to preserve his team's lead via tactics that are against the rules...with no consequences. For example, Ghana willingly delayed the game at the end of this morning's match and received a yellow card. Whoop de doo. In America, penalties directly result in an advantage for the other team.

4. Low scoring Now well I personally can enjoy a 1-0 baseball game, a 7-3 football game or a scoreless hockey game, the average American sports fan cannot. That is why all of those sports (most recently hockey) have changed rules to encourage scoring. The reason people can enjoy low-scoring baseball, football or hockey games are because they're a rarity, and a display of incredible pitching/defense. Can you imagine the ratings baseball would get if every game were 1-0, and a 3-1 game were considered a shoot out? Soccer does not attempt to increase scoring, because it has plenty of fans around the world who like it just the way it is. But in this country, it will not fly.

Soccer will never change these things, and I don't want soccer to change these things. If they did, it would just be another reason for the rest of the world to hate the U.S. (for ruining their sport). I say let the rest of the world have their futbol. I'm perfectly happy with baseball, football, basketball, hockey, tennis and golf.

The media have tried so hard to generate interest in the U.S. soccer team, and advertising works. I'm sure there are a lot of people like me who would not have watched a single World Cup game had it not been hyped the way it was. But in the end, getting the average American sports fan to watch a few days of soccer just proved to them what they had always suspected: soccer is boring, and soccer players are pussies.

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