Friday, April 18, 2008

It's like you just cannot trust anything you read in the blogosphere!

This is the Bleacher Report bio for Andrew McNair. I point it out not because I want to make fun of him, his tastes, his hobbies, his haircut, or anything like that, I point to it because of two things. First, his given bio states that he recently graduated with a journalism diploma. Second, three out of the four articles linked on his frontpage have titles that end with exclamation points. Both points will be made relevant shortly as I dissect one of his recent articles, Another Day, Another Chelsea Scandal, and Poor Old Sven!.

Inside, I'll break down his article (very short) paragraph by (extremely short) paragraph, complete with running exclamation count!

I thought I'd got everything off my chest in my last English football article, but it appears that players and owners are just as bad as the fans.
First of all, I'm not too familiar with Bleacher Report, so I snooped a bit before I laid into Mr. McNair for not using a link to his previous article. Unless every article I looked at was posted by dolts, BR is not user friendly enough to allow in-article links. So, boo on BR for not providing HTML for its users, and lesser boo to Mr. McNair for affiliating himself with a site that is not user friendly. As for the paragraph itself, I can't wait to see just how bad EPL players and owners are.

I woke up to read Tal Ben Haim's amazing newspaper rant aimed at his current boss, Avram Grant.
Don't just leave us hanging, get there already. Jew on Jew violence is always the best.

The Chelsea center back claimed, "I knew that nothing good would come with Grant as Chelsea coach." He went on to lament his lack of opportunities under Grant, and basically said he's Mourinho's player!(1)
Ooh, juicy. Once again, this could do with a link, but for now, I'm willing to take what the author says at face value. It's nice to know that this middling former Bolton defender thinks he should, presumably, be played ahead of John Terry, Alex, and Ricardo Carvalho among others.

So what? Shit happens Tal, and you're not contracted to a manager, but to Chelsea FC.
Oh, McNair's going another way with this. Um, yeah, he's right. Mourinho's gone, get over it Tal. But really, who does Ben Haim want to bench? That's my question.

Have footballers also lost the plot?
Excuse me? Where did this come from? We were talking about one disgruntled guy. Where is this blanket statement coming from?

In any normal profession such an outburst would undoubtedly get you the sack! What makes footballers so special?(2)
What's so weird about this? I talk shit about my boss all the time to the press. If by press, you mean co-workers, of course. What is a normal profession anyway, and why would the press ask them about working conditions? I don't think my local rag is going interviewing bank tellers after the shift to ask them is they like the teller window the manager gave them that day. Point being, if the public didn't, on some level, want to know footballer's opinions, they would not be asked or published.

I fully expect Ben Haim to pick up the maximum fine of two weeks wages for his outburst, and he 100 percent completely deserves it!(3)
Yeah, I think Ben Haim will have a little hell to pay over this, but it's not really a scandal as stated in the headline, is it? If it is, Mr. McNair must be easily shocked. "Oh God! They bagged my bread and my eggs together! If I don't fix it, I'll have a wonky-shaped loaf! Alert the press!" (as an aside, though I have never written or said it before, I really like the term "wonky-shaped loaf".)

It all comes back to the issue of respect amongst footballers. Apparently, they have none!(4)
As on Wikipedia--citation, please. Once again, a blanket statement that seems to be based on the single Ben Haim-Grant situation. I agree that footballers may not be the nicest guys on earth, but how about another couple of examples?

Not for each other, not for the referee, and not even for their managers!(5)

Having said that how do we expect players to respect their managers, when even the chairman doesn't?
Transition alert. It would be easier to ferret out if the author used longer paragraphs. By the way, I hope I don't have to use (sic) every time McNair makes a grammar mistake. I'm just copying and pasting here.

I was just as appalled to hear that Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra is refusing to publicly back Sven Goran Eriksson after City's recent run of results.
Alright, Shinawatra is a new owner to the EPL. He is also of a different culture than the English. He may have different ways of dealing with personnel issues than what the author expects. You may have to give it some time before you try to read anything into Shinawatra's actions. Besides, as we have pointed out before, the dreaded vote of confidence is not something that SGE should be courting anyway.

I'm quite honestly shocked and appalled by this!(6)
What did I write above? Oh yeah. "Mr. McNair must be easily shocked." He must also be easily appalled. If Shinawatra dtermines that SGE is underperforming, he may replace him. Given that turnover in the EPL for managers is at 30% just since the season began, it's not that odd, is it?

He is reportedly lining up Portuguese boss Luiz Filipe Scolari as a replacement for Sven. What good is that ever going to do?
Big Phil is lined up for every job in the world above my local youth team. I don't think he's going to leave a Portugal squad with C. Ronaldo either before the Euros or after unless he is forced out. National Team coaching gigs are pretty cushy. You get paid the same or better to do less training, less matches and get free admission to any game in the country you want to see. Oh, and--citation, please. That guy you sat next to in the pub is not good enough.

You can't just throw another high profile manager at the job every season when things don't go your way.
Because that's what Shinawatra has done so far, is it? Oh, it's still his first season as owner, so we have no track record to go on. If Shinawatra does establish this pattern, then you can excoriate him for it. Until then, quit jumping the gun based on pub talk.

I believe Sven has done a fantastic job this season. His young squad held their own for a large part of the season near the top of the league, but sadly injuries and fatigue have led to a dip in form of late.
The most even handed lines in the article. Shame they are about to be tainted.

Everyone knows they will be a stronger side next season, with a few signings to boost the current squad. We are saying the same about Arsenal!(7)
Because no one else in the league will be making signings, Man City will rocket to the top. Seriously, until the summer arrives, you cannot talk about signings and their impact. I believe Man City will be outspent significantly by some teams, and will come out much the same next season. I have no proof, but the internet doesn't need proof, does it?

It's not rocket science!(8)
No, it's not, sadly. Of course, I don't know what we are comparing to rocket science, but I can assure you, nothing in the article so far has been rocket science.

It's funny how the clubs with foreign owners are the ones who seem to be constantly in the daily papers for the wrong reasons.
Uh, what? This is the one that really set me off. The following list of EPL clubs are foreign-owned:

  • Aston Villa
  • Bolton
  • Chelsea
  • Derby County
  • Fulham
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester City
  • Manchester United
  • Portsmouth
  • Sunderland
  • West Ham
I don't think the author realizes that the majority of EPL clubs are now foreign owned. I guarantee you that he was thinking of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and, now, Manchester City. In other words, the clubs that get most of the press anyway. Can you really say anything about how Randy Lerner has run Aston Villa? What about Björgólfur Guðmundsson at West Ham? Can you even name the guy who owns Portsmouth (Alexandre Gaydamak)? No. Many of these people stay out of the spotlight. As an author, though, McNair seems to forget them because they don't make headlines and instead takes the easy targets that everyone else goes after. This is the state of modern journalist graduates, I fear (just like Scott Templeton).

The beautiful game has been truly tainted!(9)
Whew. The end of the article. Nine exclamatory statements. Blanket statements not backed up by anything. English-style pseudo-xenophobia in an article written by a South African. I sure do wish that Mr. McNair deigns to take a more even-handed approach in his future articles. It's not rocket science!

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Ian Wright is no Jester!

Former Arsenal striker and BBC pundit Ian Wright (known for being a bit of a joker) has launched a stinging attack on his employers accusing the BBC of trying to use him as a 'comedy jester'. Wow. I am shocked. Isn't Ian Wright known for his serious manor and intellectual opinions?

Wright told Broadcast magazine....

"I don't know how long young people are going to want to sit down and watch that same old 'jacket, shirt and tie' format,"

he added.

"I am just there as a comedy jester to break the ice with Alan Shearer and Alan Hansen," whom he accused of doing "run-of-the-mill things".

Did the BBC seem nonplussed and upset by this news? Apparently not. A spokesman for the beeb said Wright was on a freelance contract and that it wished him well.

But back to Ian......Ian Wright is no jester you are saying to yourself. No no no. Not our Ian.

Not the guy who walked into the Arsenal dressing room before a game and threw 4 shirts out of the window fro a giggle. Problem was they belonged to Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Patrick Vierra AND Wrighty himself! The club shop had to be opened and new shirts printed delaying the kick off.

That Wrighty! He's no jester. Recently he recorded a silly voice mail message for 'Celebrity Messages' answering service. But he is no jester!

He sings and dances and makes jokes live on TV. But Ian Wright is no jester.

So what's Ian going to do now he has left the BBC?

He is going to host Gladiators! You sir are definitely NO jester!


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Tom Hicks is a giant, gaping c*nt

At this point, even as a die-hard LFC supporter, I'm extremely fucking tired with the boardroom drama. All the stories and tension are just flat-out boring. I've seen episodes of Degrassi Junior High with more excitement and emotion than this one. Well, not "seen" episodes, more like heard of. Yeah, a friend told me about them. I'll go with that.

However, if there's one way to fire me right back up, it's to threaten to take our Torres away.

From the Times [I'm crying as I cut-and-paste this]:

"The Times has learnt that Liverpool borrowed the money to sign Torres, the Spain forward who has scored 30 goals this season and has already become a firm favourite on the Kop, from Atlético Madrid last summer. The club then refinanced that debt on January 25, at the same time as they secured a £350 million refinancing package.

Liverpool entered into an 18-month loan agreement with interest of 9 per cent — £2.8 million a year — with a letter of credit to pay back the £31.5 million at the end of the period.

Should Liverpool be unable to pay back or refinance the loan, banks could force the sale of Torres and Babel, who was also included in the smaller refinancing package.

It is unusual for Barclays Premier League clubs to buy players in this way. Deals are normally funded using television income. Liverpool have to pay £30 million a year in interest payments on the £350 million loan, the terms of which end in July 2009. There was no official comment from the club last night."

I mean, for fuck's sake. What will happen next? Anfield was built on a Roman burial ground?

All sensationalism aside, this is absolutely fucking unacceptable. If ever we needed further proof of the cowboy wheelin' and dealin' ways of our obese Texan overlord, here it is! He swans into Anfield 18 months ago, wide-faced and bright-eyed, promising us the world with his talk. And now, in-between stories of him trying to push his detractors out of the giant, life-sized pram he lives in, we get revelations like this.

I mean honestly. Our best striker since the young Michael Owen, and we might lose him because Hicks had to fucking borrow money to pay for him??????!?!?!? How much money did that cunt invest in the first place? Oh, that's right. He borrowed almost all of it.

While the MLB is an entirely different beast, Bud "Inept" Selig is on to something when he puts prospective owners through a series of rigorous tests and checks before letting the existing owners vote and decide as to whether to approve the sale.

By contrast, the EPL [suck it, Barclays] is a lawless frontier town by comparison, with conglomerate, Russian oil merchants and feckless idiots lining up for miles around to get them a juicy piece of the global soccer pie.

Hicks is one of these feckless idiots.

If I find out he took out a mortgage or something on our stadium to fund his son's Ivy League college bills, I swear to fucking Christ, I'm gonna gut the bastard.*

And so, Tom Hicks, I will close this delightful post with a soft message to you, the architect of so many of our recent troubles [scratch that, ALL of our recent troubles]:

Tom, if you're out there, please, fuck the fuck off. Go back to Houston and diddle yourself with ballpark franks. Please stop running a much-beloved team into the ground because your own insecurity dictates that you have to act like a petulant 14-year-old. Buy Noggin. Buy some shares in Google. Whatever you choose to do with your money, I don't care. Construct a scale model of an aircraft using lunch meat. Buy the Harlem Globetrotters. Go out and get the world's most expensive handjob. I don't care. Just stop ruining something I really, really, really, really, really care about.

* Not really. Please don't come looking for me, FBI. This is tongue-in-cheek. I'm not threatening anyone's life.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

And He's Apparently Got an Armadillo in His Trousers

Me and Becks, we're just alike.

Okay, I've never cheesed 2 maybe 3 massive PKs for my country. Shit I don't even sit courtside for Laker games (that is a Laker game isn't it?).

But, if I did, I would totally stare at the Miller Lite girl's ass with the exact same "I want to bend you over and screw you six ways to Saturday and twice on Sunday... oh, and I want your friend over by the baseline to join us" look in my eyes.

Because that's pretty much what his look says.

Although hers kind of says, "Maybe if I stand a little more to the left and bend just a little more... Shit, I probably shouldn't have had the cheesecake for dessert last night after all."

Anyway, take notes Señor Belichick. That is how you ogle.

Use a subtle glance. Taking pictures might work for scouting the opponent's red zone during Super Bowl week, but when you try to do it of college coeds with your camera phone, you look like a creepy old man.

Not even forsaking the Unibomber hoodie for the hat is helping you much.

[Update: Okay, it's not really an update but an 'Oops.' That really is a cell phone in his hand, but that pic is de-TMZ'ed. For a better version click here.]

[Second update: As my friend just asked me, "Since when did David Paymer become an NBA photographer?"]

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Leigh Steinberg is a 'Tard

That's Leigh Steinberg and he is a 'tard. That's right. Sure, it's the headline, but it's worth repeating.

And I'm sorry if that offends 'tards to be lumped into the same class as an agent but, as mentioned a couple of days ago in the NYT's soccer blog (and alluded to below), the agent thinks the world's most popular sport needs to be tinkered with in order for it to appeal to Americans. Quoth the moron:

"The fact is, I think, that soccer doesn’t fit the taste of the American sports fan, who likes a finite chance of success or failure on every play,” Steinberg said. “It doesn’t have the type of pacing, like a lot of scoring. There is continuous play without scoring and the game is not susceptible to commercial breaks. Americans like fast burst of action and scoring."

I'm going to translate "not susceptible to commercial breaks" as "even if it did become wildly popular, it still wouldn't be able to maximize revenue streams from advertisers because it doesn't have definite commercial breaks, and by leaving all that money on the table, it would negatively impact player salaries and with it any commission I would draw, which is irrelevant because I don't even rep any soccer players."

You know of all the criticisms of why soccer hasn't taken off in this country, the one I never considered was there was no sequence of play that went 'score to commerical to change-of-possesion to commercial' to really draw a viewer in. Yeah, that continuous play shit sucks total ass. Too bad only 300 million people have that figured out.

But that's not even the best part.

“And yes, you can build on David Beckham as a star. But again, to really succeed, just let us tinker. Blow up the scoring. The game can be exciting. I just love that soccer announcer we have out here, the one who goes ‘Goooooooooooooooooal.’ It’s hilarious and exciting.”

I'll ignore the subtle racist overtones in his opinions of Andres Cantor and instead just focus on the scoring aspects.

Okay, if scoring is what draws viewers, then why do the ratings for the Pro Bowl suck relative to even the most mind-numbingly unwatchable late season tilt between, say, the Texans and the Fins?

In fact, what's known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the 1958 NFL championship game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, had a final score of 23-17. The Colts' winning score came in overtime, so there was no extra point. That means if you throw out the two field goals (which, yes is arbitrary, but there really is no soccer analog) then that final score was the equivalent of a 3-2 soccer match.

That's it. So the Greatest Game Ever Played more or less ended 3-2, oh and that's with an extra 8 minutes of clock time.

And, if I can get a little personal, maybe the greatest baseball game I ever saw ended 1-0 in extra innings. That was Game 7 of the 1991 World Series between the Twins and the Braves. And it was an insane pitcher's duel between John Smoltz and Jack Morris.

Nine innings. Zero runs. And it was fucking riveting stuff. I still get pissed at Kent Hrbek just thinking about that Series.

Anyway, Steinberg gets summarily trashed in the blog post's comments and rightfully so because his comments are fucking idiotic. But can we maybe use his absolute dumbassedness as a catalyst to start to put to bed this whole notion that scoring equals excitement?

Lots of scoring usually just means shitty defense. Just ask Derby County, or the L.A. Galaxy for that matter.

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San Jose Earthquakes Gets A Soccer Stadium

The San Jose Earthquakes, the new but old MLS expansion club, received approval for a new soccer specific stadium. MLS is constantly pushing for clubs to have stadia independent of other sports franchises on the theory that it will help sustain the teams.

San Jose Earthquakes owner Lew Wolff has agreed to a $132 million deal with city officials to build a new soccer stadium near the airport that could open as early as 2010.

The deal calling for the 18,000-seat stadium and an accompanying retail, office and hotel project was reached Monday. It still must be approved by the city council next month.
I don't know if the theory holds water, but I do know that if a government can be conned into providing some financial support for a soccer franchise something must be going right for soccer in the US. Despite Leigh Steinberg's proclamations.


Apparently, a commenter did something called research and discovered more details to the plan. I think those sorts of actions are reprehensible. This is a blog for god's sake. Anyway, it appears that the government may not be ponying up any money for the stadium. Lew Wolf, the owner, wants the city council to re-zone other industrial property he owns for residential development to offset the cost of building the stadium and acquiring the land of a former manufacturing plant.

Even more interesting is that the city bought the land for $81 million in 2005 and is selling it to Wolf for $132 million, plus Wolf still has to build the stadium. So, in under 3 years, San Jose has made a 62% profit on the land. That's some good business.

Moreover, if the council approves Wolf's plan, Wolf will receive a windfall on the profits he makes on his investment land rather quickly. Instead of having to wait and spend a great deal of time trying to get his land rezoned, he has bargained with the city to allow him to realize capital gains on the property much sooner, which are taxed at a lower rate. If he can get 1500 homes from the property at the average San Jose home price (about $500,000) that would amount to about $750,000,000.00 in revenue.

If he returns 25% on his investment that would give him about $187,500,000 in profit, less taxes of course. However, I imagine Wolf probably spent very little on this "industrial" property (probably a brownfield or something) and stands to earn even more profit than that, which of course would mean he could probably build the stadium and still put some coin in his pocket.

All things considered, if all of these facts are accurate, I would much rather see a city do this sort of transaction for a stadium than just blindly give out money. It makes much more sense.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

EURO 2008!

Admit it. You like a cocktease, or else you wouldn't even be reading this post. This is a pre-preview just to start to whet your possible appetite at the notion that the Euro 2008 is about 50 days away from kicking off.

Yeah, qualifiers aside, we're less than two months away from what is arguably the best soccer tournament on planet Earth. It's like the World Cup only without the AFC and CONCACAF filler, of course that comes at the expense of no Brazil and Argentina, but if somebody at UEFA wants to grant the latter temporary European status and swap them out for the Austrians I don't think a single person would complain... outside of the other teams in Group B that is.

So, while we're drawing lots to see who has to cover Turkey here's some virtual crowds and tourist attractions to start to get you in the proper mindset as the EPL, La Liga, and the Eredivisie are pretty much wrapped up (man, that hurts to admit).

Click here for some cool panoramas from the last World Cup. They are shots from cities around the world of crowds that have gathered to watch matches (QuickTime needed, but they are true VRs in that you can pan around 360 degrees).

The best might be Munich. The Olympic Park setting is pretty sweet, but even better, you can see the hillside soccer field posted on the Failblog in the background.

If not for the outcome of the match—and I'll argue until the day I die that the early yellow card on Gooch had more impact on the US's World Cup than any other call—I'd pick this one in Prague. Having been drunk near the Orloj more than a handful of times, that shot has a huge nostalgia quotient.

The weakest might be the final. You really couldn't find any place better than Balitmore? Isn't that the STD capital of the U.S. And I don't even see anyone fucking in that picture. At least the timing is good so that it's easy to distinguish the French and the Italian fans.

Finally, if you are actually making the trip, A) Lucky bastard and B) Hope you already have tickets because those stadia are fucking tiny. If not, enjoy some virtual Vienna. Just click on a spot on the map and the pans come up (try the zoo).

Again, all of this is just a tease. There is actually soccer talk about Euro 08 coming—and none of it will be as gay as the pic at the top of the post—and it's coming sooner rather than later, because, well, we have problems thinking about baseball to keep us from losing it prematurely.

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Turkey Has Nothing To Do With This Post But I Suddenly Want To Travel There

If there is anything naked people like, it's pulling riding a train.

Austria's national railway announced last week that it will offer free rides to the first 2,008 men and women who sign up to get in the buck for a photo by Spencer Tunick.

Tunick is the guy who takes pictures of naked people. Really, that's it. That's his schtick. Naked people at the UN, naked people in a field before a Phish concert, naked people at a theater in Bruges. Yep if there is a place, then Tunick will photograph people naked at or in it.

That's the kind of genius that's only rivaled by pissing on a crucifix. But hell, it's nudity. And at least a couple of those chicks are likely to be cute.

The shoot is to take place May 11 at Ernst Happel Stadium, where the Euro 2008 final is scheduled to be held. Unfortunately UEFA screwed the only good joke—"Hey, it's the only way any Austrians will see the pitch at that stadium"—by scheduling every one of the home side's matches at the Vienna venue.

That's a pretty sweet travel schedule, although it probably won't help a team so bad that its own countrymen wanted them kicked out of the tournament.

But thanks to the merciful folks at UEFA 2,008 Austrians will get their chance to be part of art or soccer history. If nothing else it gives people a nice cocktail conversation piece. "Dude, I so hooked up with these two chicks last week."

"Big deal, I was part of a train with 2,007 other nekkid people."

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The Good, The Bad, The WTF

Sometimes I have a problem believing a shirt I come across actually exists. Well, I guess that's a little harsh. Sometimes I have a hard time believing that some shirts actually saw time on the pitch. Shirts that look more like Italian knock-offs or training ground wear than suitable for Saturday play. Today's shirt is one of those shirts. Glory glory Man United, indeed.

This is the alternate jersey from Manchester United's 1992-93 campaign. Boy, is it hideous. Remember that Liverpool shirt I bagged on last week? The one with the non-sublimated print? Well, this one is even more horrible. At least with the Liverpool shirt the print just made the fabric look dirty. Here the Manchester United shirt looks like an all-over bruise.

Or, I guess, it looks like a United fan's tattoo wet dream. I'm sure the guy below would love to redo his back tattoo given the chance to an all over badge print like is on the shirt.

Well, since people with tattoos are easy fodder, one more for you here. What the hell is this guy going to do when his back hair grows back out and obscures his nice new art?

Oh, and one other thing. If you would like to buy this shirt, on all of the ebays, only one is for sale at this time. Should tell you just how enduringly popular this one is with the lads.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stevie G's Gangland Gal

It has been recently revealed that Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard was threatened with bodily harm by a Scouser gangster in the early part of this decade. In a robbery trial involving John Kinsella, a Liverpudlian underworld figure, a letter from Captain Fantastic's father, Paul, revealed that Kinsella was hired by Paul to protect the midfielder from George "Psycho" Bromley.

The cause of Gerrard's troubles? Besides living in Liverpool. Psycho was jealous that Gerrard was flirting with his old girlfriend, who happened to have dated Gerrard prior to Bromley, and threatened the star with physical harm.

Bromley's jealousy spilled over into violence in November 2001 when a brick went
through the window of Gerrard's £50,000 BMW X5 parked outside her home.

Scared Gerrard immediately broke off contact with Lauren.

She said: "That day ruined it. My relationship with Steve as a friend stopped. I was
devastated because we got on so well, even as mates."

But Bromley's campaign of hatred began in earnest. He made death threats against the star, threatened to blow Gerrard's KNEECAPS off, challenged him to a fist FIGHT and even AMBUSHED him outside his luxury home in Southport, Merseyside.

That lady to the right, Lauren, is the source of all this trouble. Seems a bit much trouble for her, doesn't it?

[Photo Credit: News of the World]

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Sex is For Winners

Italian scientists are really at the forefront of scientific discovery. No, it's not a discovery about the perfect number of meatballs in Spaghetti Bolognese--the answer is 8. Standing upon the shoulders of Fermi, Galileo and Da Vinci, Italian researchers have finally discovered the key to sexual performance.

Chiara Simonelli, associate professor of the psychology of emotional and sexual development at Rome's La Sapienza university, has found a direct link between a man's sexual performance and the performance of his favorite team.

"If the team close to his heart loses, he's depressed, his desire falls and the sex fades away," she said on Friday at the presentation of the 2008 report on, Italians in Bed.
Simonelli went on to say that Paul Jewell appears to be the exception to the rule. Derby County is losing at a record rate, yet he still seems to be getting it up. Must be a masochist.

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Sheva wears a thong. The Sun is there

What does one do when he is paid millions of pounds a year to sit on their aging ass? Well, first of all, you make that ass comfortable. Failing that, you go out on the golf course and let other hackers spot your thong when leaning over to pick your (golf) ball out of the cup. How do I know to do this? Sheva taught me.

As with any suspect story involving a British-born or -living celebrity, The Sun was there. According to the article, when Sheva want to retrieve his (golf) ball after a putt, he showed a whale tail to fellow golfers.

Sorry. But that's really it. Sheva wears a thong. The article did provide the above picture, though, where The Sun's crack photoshop team theorized what Sheva in a thong would look like on the pitch. The only reason I'm even writing this article is so I can use that photo. It's awesome.

In order to provide you with a tad more quality from this article, I'll link you to pics of Sheva's American wife, who is supposedly a model. Given the sameness of all of her pics, I think she's had all of two photo shoots. Luckily for us, they are uniformly nude. Here ya go (NSFW).

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Just shut up Arsene

While we Arsenal fans have spent the past two months suffering through horrific ankle injuries, bullshit penalties, hideous finishing, and the general collapse of our season, our manager appears to have been smoking some excellent weed. At least I hope that's what he has been up to, otherwise he is just delusional and/or possibly senile. Arsene sounds delighted about yesterday's soulcrushing defeat to the Mancs, after the jump.

Wenger, abetted by the sychophant London press, has been spinning the string of chokes against quality sides as a moral victory of sorts. This AP article is a good example.

If any failure to meet objectives can be seen as a glorious failure, this was it.

Wenger, though conceding the title chase was over, remained defiant after Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Manchester United.

"We will continue to play the way we do but better," Wenger told reporters. "The main target is to keep the team together. They are absolutely amazing.
"I feel the difference between success and failure is very little."

No-one would dispute his words. Their football at times has been sublime.

Great, awesome. I really enjoyed seeing Adebayor, in the words of Hirshey, finish like a U-11 girl yesterday. Ever since LB coined him Samson in mid February, after he axed the corn rows, his play has gone to shit. I also really enjoyed when we passed the ball around twenty times inside the 18 and failed to even get a shot off.

How about some more torture, from the official site:

"I am not an idealist," he said. "I want to win trophies and I am very sad that we cannot win a trophy this season now.

"But on the other hand I feel we have done a lot for this League. We want to play the way we play but we want to do it better.

"There was a very, very thin margin between winning and losing this season but that is sport. The winner is praised beyond reason and the team who do not win is slaughtered beyond reason. That is true more in football. We feel there is not a big difference and we want to keep doing what we do.

"We play quality football because we believe it is best way to win trophies. Yes we lacked maturity in some games. Today we were calm at the back but in some games we lacked maturity. However I am confident that if we gain that then we will win again."

You know what I'm confident about? That if Arsene doesn't spend some fucking money this summer, I might be tempted to question my bandwagoning, pretentious EPL loyalties. Don't do it Arsene, don't make me support a bunch of car thieves up north! Or maybe I will just pretend I can speak German and root for Bayern Munich. Hey, at least then I see Ribery on a weekly basis. And at least Luca Toni can put the ball into the back of the net. I can also get my quota of psycho German keepers.

Seriously, though, ditch Gallas, and buy another good central defender (preferably from some sort of mildly authoritarian Balkan country). Use Toure where he belongs, in the center of defense, with Song as cover. Buy Phillipp Lahm from Bayern to play right back. Buy another winger, but commit to playing Theo much more often. Consider getting a goal poacher along the lines of Pippo Inzaghi. Recall Carlos Vela from Osasuna. If you have to sell someone to fund it all, may I suggest Rosicky, Eboue, or Senderos?

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Monday, April 14, 2008

ü75's *NEW* Most Hated Team of the Moment: Queen of the South

Sorry, Liverpool. Your reign lasted only a couple of days. There is a new team that draws my ire, having beaten a team I follow in a game I expected my team to win. Usually this occurs in a knockout tournament, though sometimes a costly loss in league can trigger it. Some teams are exempt from being a MHTotM since they are always hated, like Chelsea, Manchester United, Rangers and some others. Still, until 9.30 AM on Sunday, I never thought I'd have to drop Liverpool to add Queen of the South as my Most Hated Team of the Moment.

Part of the reason a team becomes a MHTotM is because I am paying attention to the match. If I had no knowledge of Saturday's game until mid-afternoon (my time), I would just shrug it off and say, "oh well". Unfortunately for me on Saturday, that was not the case.

Saturday's game was a 12.15 kickoff Glasgow time, or 7.15 AM EDT. Since I had no expectations of being up at that time, I made no plans to follow the game. My son had a different idea of what time was appropriate for weekend wakeup, though, and chose 7.20 to start fussing. Seeing as I go to sleep around 2 and young'uns normal wake time is around 9, this was a tad early for me. I got him up, got a bottle ready, and plopped us both in my recliner.

Early morning Saturday TV is unfit for adults, even those with child-like tendencies. I flipped around for a bit before realizing there was not a damn thing on. I pulled up the menu to see if there was anything on the DVR that I could watch. Nope, just my wife's recording of Secret Life of a Soccer Mom. Then it dawned on me, Aberdeen is playing, and in a game they should easily win. I fired up my laptop.

By the time I got logged on, about 20 minutes had passed. I pulled up BBC's play by play, which always runs a few minutes behind. In another window, I pulled up SkySports live ScoreCentre. Uh oh, Queen of the South scored. Well, it was still early so I wasn't panicked. I refreshed the BBC page to get the writeup of how they scored. When I digested that, I went back to the ScoreCentre and saw Aberdeen tie the match up within 15 minutes. Alright, now we'll score a few more and get to the final. Halftime came, my son finished his bottle, and Aberdeen were said to be in control of the tie.

With my son playing around me, I settled in for the second half. I didn't have much time to settle because a goal came almost immediately. As you can probably guess, QotS scored it. I cursed (don't tell my wife). Four minutes later, Aberdeen leveled again 2-2. Three minutes after that QotS scored again. Jebus! Aberdeen then notched a third comeback goal six minutes after. Before the BBC liveblog could catch up, the dagger came. John Stewart, who started his career at Aberdeen and played there until 2006, scored QotS's fourth goal one minute after Aberdeen got their third. Despite Aberdeen hitting the crossbar and post in quick succession two minutes later, the SPL squad could not score again. 4-3 was the final, with five of the goals coming in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

This is the first ever cup final for Queen of the South who had previously only been to the semis once, 58 years ago. This season, they are mid-table in the First Division, safe from relegation, but almost 30 points behind the promotion challengers. Now, like Gretna two years before them, if the right team makes the final opposite them (Rangers in this case), QotS will be a lower division club playing in Europe. Bastards.

Yesterday, in my Google alerts, I came across a short blog post by an American who just moved to London. He caught the game, and was "thoroughly unimpressed" by it. He cites that it seemed like Scottish soccer was like Arena Football in that there was too much scoring. And here I thought Jim Rome told us Americans don't like soccer because there is not enough scoring.

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This Hurt Me More Than It Will Hurt You

Before you read any further, let me apologize in advance.

There are two reasons for this.

First, it is a blatant ripoff homage to the work of the fine folks over at Fire Joe Morgan. However, having received an email from Ken Tremendous himself over the weekend, I feel that if ever there were a time to steal and get away with it, that time would be today.

Second, I apologize for forcing you to sit though the original article entitled "Why Americans Have Not Embraced Soccer", which will probably leave you dumber than you were before you read it. But because we are powerless to help even ourselves, we give it the FJM treatment:

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world.

Okay, we're off to a good start. No problems here.

The World Cup is the largest sporting event each year it is held. The 2006 finals averaged 260 million viewers. For comparison, the Super Bowl that year only averaged 90.7 million.

Let me nitpick. First off, who the fuck is teaching people to type these days? Unless you are using grandpa's IBM Selectric typewriter, you don't put two spaces after a period. That is a relic from days before word processors were able to automatically kern between characters. So, stop it. It's irritating. Read the MLA of CMS. And not to put you off, but it will be time better spent than reading the rest of this piece. [Note: Blogger is apparently smarter than Braden Moore and has automatically corrected his penchant for double-spacing after periods. Click on the link provided above if you would like to be irritated by the original.]

Second, this is not really apples-to-apples. Technically the 32 teams that qualify for "World Cup" held every four years are actually in the World Cup Finals. Now there is a final match, which determines the winner of the World Cup (Italy in 2006), but the 32-team tournament itself is the World Cup Finals.

This is not a meaningless distinction for our purposes, because that average number of 260 million viewers includes matches like Iran v. Angola and Paraguay v. Sweden. And, quality side they may be, Sweden plays some boring ass soccer that nobody should be subjected to, not even the fucking Paraguayans.

The proper comparison for the Super Bowl then should be the rating for the Grand Final, which was not 260 million viewers, but 715.1 million, meaning we go from a multiple of about 3 to one of about 8. Not a trivial difference.

But whatevs.

In Europe, fans live and die with their favorite teams. In fact, they get so fanatical the crowds frequently turn violent. They even have a name for these unruly people: hooligans.

What is frequently? Yesterday, Sunday April 13, 2007, there were over 100 soccer matches across the top European and South American leagues. That was just Sunday so you can probably double it to get a decent guestimate for the total number of matches over the weekend. Even then you're lowballing it because it was just the top leagues (no Championship, no Ligue 2, or Serie B) and it was just two continents (no J League, no Africa, not even MLS).

By comparison—and let's go back to the NFL here—there are, what, 16 games in an NFL week. So when you see violence at a soccer match, say, once every 3 months on ESPN highlights, there have been the equivalent of about 9-and-a-half NFL season's worth of matches in that time span. Granted, there's a decent amount of wiggle room in those numbers but would anyone ever suggest that there was frequent violence in the NFL if there was an unruly fan outburst once every ten years or so?

Also, the etymology of the word 'hooligan' has little to do with soccer. But, hey, why let such trivialities get in the way of such a riveting analysis?

Despite its outrageous popularity across the globe, soccer has failed to grab a foothold here in the United States. This has to be attributed to what our society values in its athletes.

Did you hear that? That was the sound of the life force literally being sucked out of me as I read that. Values? Is that like a "culture of life" sort of thing?

I'm going to go out on a limb here, but in a world where Leonard Little can get behind the wheel of a car drunk, kill a woman, then 6 years later get arrested for DWI again and never lose his job as a Defensive End for the St. Louis Rams because he is large, fast, and strong, it's probably safe to say that the primary thing we 'value' when it comes to sports is winning (the reason Michael Vick is in jail is because apparently we value puppies more than winning).

The three most popular sports in the US are football, basketball and baseball. All these sports rely on extreme hand-eye coordination and precision.

Among other things (speed, strength, fitness, etc.), sure.

We ask our pitchers to throw a ball into a tiny strike zone, and our batters are given an equally difficult task of hitting it square with a small bat.

Not sure who "we" are, but really of all the problems to explore here, the vague use of the first-person plural here is probably low on the list.

Basketball players are expected to throw a ball through a hoop much higher than they are. Often, if they cannot do this 50 percent of the time, we see it as a failure.

Oh, "we" is you. You see that as failure. If I had someone 6'6" with a 42" vertical leap coming after me every time I jacked up a shot, I'd be pretty jazzed about making it 50% of the time. Defense has a lot to do with shooting percentages. Don't think so? Then why do 'bad' free throw shooters in the NBA (Shaq excepted) still shoot around 70%.

If you shoot .500 from the floor, you are the 33rd best shooter in the league by percentage (currently a spot held by Nick Collison of the Sonics). In a 30-team league where rosters go 15 deep, that puts you in the top 7.33% of shooters in the NBA. Hardly failure.

And they aren't "throwing" a ball through a hoop. They are shooting it (that probably artificially inflates the percentages, huh?) Also, when someone is 6'6" with a 70" wingspan, the hoop ain't that much higher than they are, but this isn't a math paper.

Football teams execute choreographed plays with extreme precision. Passes are expected to hit players in stride, and wide-outs are expected to have perfect timing.

Suddenly this became a love letter to the Joffrey that is the NFL, but there is nothing outlandish here. Passing plays in football require timing.

Meanwhile, soccer is completely free-flowing. Possession changes quickly and often. Players are not able to keep control of the ball for much more than a few seconds at a time.

Yeah? And? So?

Those three statements could just as easily be used to describe basketball, which people in the US apparently love.

Also, kicking a ball is so much more inaccurate than what we as Americans have come to expect in sports.

Right about here, I am praying this was written by a high schooler. Somebody please tell me Braden Moore does not have a college degree as I feel that would devalue everyone else who has ever earned one.

What's your measure of accuracy, Braden? Soccer teams that like to control the midfield actually have decent passing accuracy rates (i.e. passes intended for teammates, make it to teammates). For example, in the first leg of its Champions League match up with AC Milan in March, Arsenal had a passing efficiency of 78%. Compare that to, say, a completion percentage for an NFL quarterback. Last year Drew Brees had the highest completion percentage in the league at 67.5%.

Now, again, this might not be the right comparison but that's kind of the point. Well, it's one of two points. First, you can't compare any two stats that you fucking feel like comparing. And second, your non-quantitative "stat" about inaccurate passing in soccer is wrong.

When an American stumbles across a soccer game on television, they are not able to see the greater grace and skill involved. They see people who nine times out of 10 are failing.

Ugh... I must be a masochist.

I am an American. When I stumble across a game on television or even when I deliberately turn one on, I am indeed able to see the grace and skill involved. As for those people who can't, exactly what "failure" are they seeing nine times out of 10? And are you intimating that this is somehow unacceptable for the purposes of enjoying a sport?

I'm going to take a guess at the answers to my questions and say they are respectively: "A failure to score" and "yes."

Let's take baseball for a comparison, where the goal is also to score. A major league team averages about 750 runs a season and does so over about 6000 plate appearances. That means that a baseball player is failing to score seven of every eight times they come to plate. Are you suggesting that nine of 10 is unacceptable but seven of eight is fine?

I think you are.

By the way, ever seen a save percentage in hockey? Hockey players "fail" at a rate as higher than nine times out of 10. Yet, it is still more popular than soccer in America. How can that be? Is failure somehow more acceptable when ice and skates add to the degree of difficulty?

This of course only applies to uneducated fans. There are soccer enthusiasts here in this country. The sport simply holds more of a cult following instead of mass-market appeal.

If I had any of that life force left, I might argue with the "only applies." Soccer is such a stupidly simple game that almost anyone should be able to see the skill involved. If not, they could pick up something round and after about 2 minutes of trying to juggle it with just their feet, easily have that appreciation. But I'm digressing.

A cult? Should I put on my Nike's and wait for the spaceship to emerge from behind the comet? MLS games average around 14,000 for attendance. So, maybe you could tell me at what number this stops being a cult. Really, as someone raised Catholic, I'd like to know at what point I'm no longer violating the first Commandment by enjoying soccer.

Because of this, I do not see soccer in this country catching up in popularity with the other major sports. Our values are too ingrained into us to change.

Because of what? Because of every point you made that was inaccurate, grossly misleading, or simply stupid?

Oh, because it currently just has a cult status. That's right, nothing which doesn't currently have "mass-market appeal" will ever have that appeal. Not even when the demographic make-up of this country shifts and the already sizable Hispanic-American population, which loves soccer, becomes an even larger percentage of the US population.

The skill needed to succeed in soccer just does not compare to the skills we admire in athletes.

Oh, maybe I should have saved the bit about picking up something round and trying to juggle it for here.

Yes, because we like passing from a quarterback's hands to a receiver's hands, we could never admire the skill in passing from a midfielder's feet to a forward's feet. Or because we like people who fail to get a hit about 70% of the time they step to the plate, we can't enjoy a sport in which teams get off, oh 13 or 14 shots on goal and maybe make 2.

What about NASCAR? It has been one of (if not the) fastest growing sports in America over the last decade. Have we suddenly started to change our "values" with respect to the ability to make left turns for hours on end more than other skills? And if we changed those values, why couldn't we change whatever values are preventing us from liking soccer? Why, Braden why?

Maybe the reason Americans haven't taken to soccer is because they are fucking stupid. I would never make such a brutal and unsophisticated argument. But if forced to, I might offer up this bit of writing as my first piece of evidence.

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