Friday, July 30, 2010

Jersey Shore

No, not that stupid reality show that everyone flipped out about last night because of the new season. I'll be there for the week starting tomorrow. Not in Seaside Heights, but farther away. I know you will miss me, all four of you.

For your entertainment, here are some fun pictures I made on FaceinHole for the occasion...

Oh look, here's Jonathan Papelbon, Tim Tebow, and Landon Donovan!

And here's the lovely LeBron "Snooki" James muscling out of jail!

And here's "The Si--" uhh...Cristiano Ronaldo. Here's a funny story: during the World Cup, people were actually thinking that Ronaldo was "The Situation." Ha ha

Look at Cliff Lee rocking out!

What a lovely cheeser (and tan), Chad Ochentaycinco.

Have a fantastic week, folks.


What Boredom Does to You

In honor of Cristian Guzman going to the Texas Rangers, I finally decided to do this.

GO GO TEXAS RANGERS (Insert awesome Power Rangers guitar here)


My Exploding Rant on How Much I Hate Phillies Management

by: AnimaniacZero

Before I begin, a lot of you may know that I'm from Philadelphia, and before I showed interest in any other teams, the Phillies were the first team I loved and supported, and I have a right to express opinion on how they make me want to punt things that breathe.

Yesterday presented a "blockbuster trade" to many baseball fans as the Phillies saw sophomore starter J.A. Happ and two prospects go to the Houston Astros for their "ace," Roy Oswalt. Question: Don't we already have enough Roys on one team? Just asking, you know. From the start, this left a really bitter taste in my mouth, because in all fairness, we had a young pitcher who was second in NL Rookie of the Year voting last year and showed a lot of potential despite a previous injury. But now, I'm going to go in-depth as to how much I currently hate the Phillies organization for poorly handling a lot of trade situations since the Cliff Lee trade.

Ever since we traded away Cliff Lee and huge pitching prospect Kyle Drabek to Seattle and Toronto respectively for Roy Halladay and some guy named Phillippe Aumont, whom I'll talk about later, things have just not been going the Phillies' way in the case of trades and sacrifices. Sure, it's never really supposed to be an ultimate win-win for a team that is at the top of the NL food chain, but certain circumstances can be avoided, right? Even though we had one year left with Mr. Lee as well as tight budget issues, other position players could have been put in his place in combination:

-- Ben Francisco & Jayson Werth <-- Phillies got Ben along with Cliff in the huge trade from last year, and Werth is still trying to get a contract extension that will guarantee him to wear a Phillies uniform for a longer time. -- Either one of the two mentioned above & Matt Stairs <-- Now we all know what Matt Stairs did to Jonathan Broxton in '08 and '09, and he would come in mighty handy as a DH on an AL team.
-- Jayson Werth & Kyle Kendrick <-- What I mentioned previously with Werth, along with an up-and-coming pitcher that's currently having a par season as a starter. (Note how I didn't mention prospect Domonic Brown in any of this. The front office would probably be stupid enough to throw him in one of these mixes) What did they end up doing? Cliffie and Drabek. WTF Ruben Amaro, Jr. You have a guy throwing a no-hitter in the minors, and another guy in the running for his second AL Cy Young award. Oh that's right, they were ours, and you gave them up. You know how the Yankees got their powerhouse teams over the years? They strategically traded guys that either did or didn't have the stuff to keep the team going, and although it required a lot of luck, it ended up working out somehow. With a rotation of Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Moyer, and Blanton, that could have been a stellar lineup. No, that got thrown out the window because you thought trading an ace for an ace would do absolutely no harm. Do you REMEMBER what this man did for you???

Let's fast forward to yesterd--no, how about this whole month. This is what you call tradin' season, and aside from what happened yesterday, Mr. Jayson "Edge" Werth hasn't been moved, and apparently you've been putting him on the market for guys. Did we forget about him or something? Yeah, I know Shane Victorino is on the DL, but isn't that why we called up Domonic Brown and have guys like Ben Francisco and Ross Gload on the bench? Ugh. Okay, fine, be that way. Not only that, I guarantee you that there are plenty of other pitchers that had a load of potential aside from Roy Oswalt. Cool, he's on the market and he's a big name. Does that mean he's going to suddenly turn into Superman and make us forget about what happened to Cliff Lee and Kyle Drabek? C'MON!! We Phillies fans aren't stupid, nor do we have short-term memory. A lot of us are still rather angry that Cliff has been with more teams that he should have been within the past year and we lost a pitching prospect that won't have fluctuating seasons like our last top pitching prospect that was Cole Hamels.

I also think you should be looking at long-term stats too.
Lifetime stats against the NL East for Roy Oswalt: (From Todd Zolecki's Twitter account)
"Roy Oswalt vs. Mets (5-5, 3.68 ERA), Marlins (5-4, 3.72 ERA), Nationals (3-2, 3.52 ERA) ... and Braves (0-3, 7.58 ERA in 7 starts)."
Other things that should be taken into account are the second half totals, age, and injury. Oswalt's like Brett Favre...he has three cortisone shots in his back, he's 32, and he's actually starting to decline a bit considering his later stats and what I posted above.
J.A. Happ on the other hand, is a younger guy (27), has a great looking record and ERA, and hasn't suffered a lot of injuries during his time in the majors. Look at the stats, and look at the potential. Did the Phillies win? Or did we lose...again?

Oh wait. I forgot that I was going to talk about Phillippe Aumont. I don't think I should right now. I'm too angry. In response, look at his stats and realize how much more I dislike the December trade.
Take a gander at it. Look at it hard.

In conclusion, the Phillies farm system and organization is imploding. I suppose that dynasty a la Atlanta Braves from the 1990's won't be happening in these parts, and we're going to have to put up with more disappointment. This organization makes me angry. They take a good thing, and they throw up on it. THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS.

This man fails at deals.


Monday, July 26, 2010

What it Means to be a Hall of Famer

If you're a baseball fan, you should have known that this past weekend was "Hall-of-Fame Weekend" in Cooperstown, and men such as Whitey Herzog, Andre Dawson, and Doug Harvey were inducted into the prestigious Baseball Hall of Fame. These three men mentioned have accomplished a great deal in the game of baseball, such as umpiring numerous All-Star Games and World Series, leading teams to championships as a head coach, and leading a team by hitting, running, and being successful in fielding.

Is this all you need to become an inductee into any hall of fame? No. Not in the least bit. Last time I checked you have to be more than just physical talent. In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch says something along the lines of: "To know what kind of a person a man is, walk around in his shoes for a while" [Paraphrased]. This man has to love what he does, and show it in his work every day of his career. It doesn't necessarily mean to be an awesome player and then do so much humanitarian work that you make buckets of cash from endorsements and then donating it all to charity. No, it doesn't work like that. This man has to be the ultimate definition of influence in the sport and be willing to reflect that influence in every aspect of life, be it on the field or off the field. (Gregory Peck is a boss, by the way.)

When a person is eligible to have their named etched into history, different aspects are taken into account as to why they should be immortalized in a Hall of Fame. Okay, he hits a lot of home runs or he scores a lot of touchdowns or she's the fastest runner in the history of the sport. Does that mean he or she automatically gets in? Not necessarily. What has that person done off of the field? Did that person a good example in their daily life? Did they take their time out to help out those who needed hope and life when that all seemed too far gone to them? Were they faithful to what they did and not abuse their privileges in their respective sport? Were they honorable and respectful to the rules and followed them efficiently? See? Isn't it a little harder now? Maybe not. Can you name a couple of athletes and coaches today that fit some of these things that I mentioned? I bet you could. I know I can with no problem.

When I think of all of the men (and women) that have been elected to a hall of fame from any sports organization, they not only had credentials on and off the field, but they also had the capability to spread their smile and their own personal magic among so many different people. They didn't have fanbases just because of their talent, but because they were the nicest people to grace the presence of the sport. Their talent gave people hope and inspiration--enough to make a huge influence on the path that they want to take in life. Men who grew up watching Wayne Gretzky, Larry Bird, or Cal Ripken, Jr. might have been inspired to the point where they wanted to play the sport and make it a part of their life. Women who grew up watching Mia Hamm, Lisa Leslie, or Jennie Finch may have also received that inspiration to make the sport of their choice a part of their lifestyle. If they didn't inspire them to play a sport, it inspired them to become better people and teach them the sportsmanship that is required off of the field.

These men and women that I mentioned are [or will be] in their respective hall of fame for a reason: they love what they do, and their showing of it made a major impact in people's lives. Regardless of whether these men and women are former players, coaches, officials, or even broadcasters, their love of the sport is what's making other legacies rise and the youth (and old too) have the gleam in their eye. Without these legendary figures, sports are nothing. These guys are like the war heroes that show pride for their country and are willing to fight for it in times of trouble. These hall of famers are the heroes and idols that we all would want to be like someday.

I want to be like my heroes someday, too.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Philadelphia Union/Manchester United - GOOD TIMES

"Yeah baby! Yeah!"

I totally couldn't help but say that. Dead serious.
Anyway, Keith and I went to Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia last night to see Philadelphia Union take on Manchester United in their 2010 North American Tour (sounds like a concert series, doesn't it?) and believe me, it was one of the coolest experiences ever. Even though we were in Philadelphia, there were loads and loads of Manchester United shirts (even the cheap $10 ones that aren't legit shirts). Anyway, the atmosphere was great, and there were a lot of people ready to watch the game.

I managed to sneak a photo of the Red Devil mascot before the game started.

Some funny tidbits:
-- Everybody booed when it was announced that alcohol would not be served after the 60th minute. That was rather funny.
-- Not just that, everybody booed Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter during the "ceremonial first kick."
-- There were a lot of "sticking to the Union" chants, but no "glory glory Man United." Bandwagoners, I suppose?

Anyway, the tour really doesn't show all of the Man U stars such as Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic, but we still got a brief taste of what the Barclays Premier League was like playing a lowly MLS team. Here's the thing though--the Union starting eleven actually looked decent even though they were basically playing some Manchester United scrubs and popular B-list starters. A lot of shot opportunities came off in the first half, but the score was 0-0 after 45 minutes.

Photos? YOU BET!!
(Click photos to enlarge)

During the second half, a lot of the Union scrubs were put in, but the amazing part is that only one goal was allowed by the Union. Interesting, eh?
Sir Alex Ferguson, the head coach of Manchester United, thought the Union played exceptionally well and had a lot of compliments (which is unlike him, to say the least). He also had a lot to say about Andrew Jacobsen, one of the Union midfielders. As long as he didn't say anything about wanting Mwanga or Le Toux, I'm happy about that. :-)

All in all, this was an awesome experience, and it's definitely something that I'll be telling my kids about one day--that is...if I ever have them, heh heh. If you're a futbol fan, seeing this was probably one of the best Christmas in July presents ever offered to you. It was for me, that's for sure.


(Final Note: More photos will be uploaded and placed in another section. Stay tuned.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Miami Yankees--I mean...Heat

I keep reading about who else wants to go to play for the Miami Heat. Is this ever going to stop?

Penny Hardaway, didn't Miami release you for a reason or something?

The NBA is officially driving me beserk.


Friday, July 16, 2010

The "For Sale" Series - Ilya Kovalchuk

Since Johnny Olson is dead, I'm just going to get another announcer guy. Gene Wood! He's dead too, but I don't care!

Please talk about our next contestant, Gene!

"The next item on our list is a very popular Russian who has celebrated most of his career with the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL. He has also starred in many hockey World Championships and Olympic play. During the 2010 season, he was traded to the New Jersey Devils and made a brief postseason appearance with them. Now a free agent, he is looking to put a spring in the step of a new NHL team. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ilya Kovalchuk!"

(Note: He never said any of this.)

Ohhhhh yes, ladies, he will definitely be a hot commodity to any team that chooses to pursue him. At this time, the Devils do not have the salary cap to keep him, so they're pretty much out of the picture. The biggest candidate to get the massive Russian thus far is the Los Angeles Kings. With a huge resume such as over 300 goals and over 600 points in the past ten years, he could be a huge addition to the team. However, the Kings are looking for a steadier deal and playing a safe game in case if they could get more than just Kovalchuk out of the deal. If nothing comes from this, there are actually rumors swirling around that he will play for the KHL (the Russian hockey league) and follow the same path that Evgeni Nabokov has already planned to take.
It's still relatively early yet, as preseason starts in September, but as of right now, Ilya is an eligible bachelor for any NHL team that has the money for him.

What was that Jennifer Lopez song again? Love don't cost a thing? Yeah, there won't be any love lost if he chooses to go to a powerhouse team. He deserves the best, right?
(^ That had to have been the worst paragraph I have ever typed on this blog. Shoot me.)


Thursday, July 15, 2010

The French are coming!! Oh wait, it's just one Frenchman.

For those who follow (soccer, as I will refer to in the blog as) futbol, many of you already know that as of yesterday, Frenchman Theirry Henry will now be wearing a New York Red Bulls uniform in MLS. Formerly of British team Arsenal and recently Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona, Henry is making his former vacation spot of New York his home.

Over the past year, he hasn't seen much playing time in the Spanish and Champions Leagues, as he was being chosen over the younger Pedro, and now that his exit is official, Henry will be replaced by former Valencia footballer David Villa. Henry has made some controversy over the past year, as he was part of a very controversial call during World Cup qualifiers with the French National team against Ireland. He's also been a face of speculation; as he was looking at MLS for almost 2 seasons, he was rumored to have originally been a choice for (then) expansion team Seattle Sounders FC [Cleveland does not rock here]. Well, we can all throw that out the window, as his decision is now set in stone.

What is this going to do for futbol in the United States? Hate to say it, but probably not a whole bunch at all. Remember the huge hype when David Beckham was coming to the U.S. to play for the LA Galaxy and was bringing the whole family with him? I bet LA is still basking in it, but countrywide, the hype lasted less than a month. Heck, Landon Donovan wasn't really thrilled with his cooperation and teamwork style, but then again, we're mixing two completely different playing styles forcefully. Anywho, if there is anything that's going to help the popularity of MLS, Henry and Juan Pablo Angel up top mowing through the competition for the rest of the season and taking the MLS Cup in November might actually do the trick. You never know. The United States is infamous for front-running certain things, yes? People who like soccer but never watch MLS probably will if this happens. Despite the fact that MLS is like a minor league farm system compared to the big leagues like La Liga, Serie A, and Bundesliga, respect might be gained from teams and organizations overseas if there shows to be signs of success from this deal. Not only that, it's going to give "older" players--as in guys over the age of 30--the chance to continue playing in an environment where the sport is still appreciated and will not be overshadowed by younger and upcoming players.

This deal looks really great for MLS so far, and hopefully it's a bigger invitation for more Europeans to make MLS their home in the future.

Philadelphia Union fans are totally hating on this. I guarantee it.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

MLB SLANT FOR 2010 - *Now With All-Star Break Action*

Welcome to my MLB All-Star Break Slant for 2010.....
......In the thiiiiirrrrrd dimension!!!!

Does everyone have their 3D glasses?? No? Okay, you don't need them. I was just kidding about the whole 3D part. I wouldn't want to make your eyes bug out or anything. I think the red background on the blog does that enough.
Anyway, this season has been nothing less than a slobberknocker, and we've seen a lot of changes, upsets, and injuries among other things. Now, without any further ado...

[WARNING: There are no stats mentioned in this thing. This is all merely opinion, as this whole entire blog is, basically.]

American League

East Division: (Order in Win/Loss column as of the All-Star Game)
New York Yankees - There they go again, kicking butt and taking names with their huge names and their huge salaries. Does this surprise me? No. Expect them to make huge trades and pretty much do the same thing they do every year: annoy everyone that lives in Boston or Philadelphia.
Tampa Bay Rays - I like these guys nowadays. I mean, they're not at the top like they were at the end of April, but they're still going at a really nice pace being the second best team in the majors and still keeping an eye on the Yankees. Sure, people are still complaining about the Tropicana Arcade ballpark, but whatever.
Boston Red Sox - Can you tell that this team is injury-plagued? Looking from the outside of all of it, absolutely not. The BoSox are keeping things tight with the two big guys above them, and they don't really show any signs of fatigue yet. I could be speaking too soon though. Just so long as they keep beating the Yankees, I bet all Boston fans will be happy in some way. Remember when I said there was no hope for Big Papi? Well, look at him being all big now and finally winning a Home Run Derby.
Toronto Blue Jays - Once upon a time, this looked like a stellar, hard-hitting team with a decent pitching staff. Now, they just look sad. They have one of the worst batting averages in the league, but they lead the league in home runs. What does that tell you? They're hit or miss.
Baltimore Orioles - Hi, guys. Do you want anything from the store while you're sitting in the basement? A whole new team? Sorry, but I can't buy that for you guys right now. I don't have the money, and clearly, neither do you. Do you want me to bake you an "I'm Sorry" cake?

Central Division: (Order in Win/Loss column as of the All-Star Game)
Chicago White Sox - Hey, hey! You guys look much better this time around! Considering that you won your little yearly series against your Cubbie neighbors, your chances of making to postseason actually look nice this year. One question though: can you make Mark Buerhle a little more intimidating? His record and ERA don't look that great right now, and I bet it's from you guys relying on him a bit too much once you hit a bump in the road.
Detroit Tigers - Dun dun dunnnnnnn. This race to the top is really really close too. Something tells me these guys are gonna land out on top since they've been sitting in second so much this year. Whadyasay, Motor City Hockeytown Naysayers?? I do notice a bit of a trend with this division. You guys don't score a whole bunch of runs. Do you like giving people heart attacks as ballpark promotions?
Minnesota Twins - Don't get me wrong, you guys are still really good, but what's with the losing skid? Did we catch the slump bug? It looks like you got a little too comfortable in interleague play and then forgot which division you were in after a while. Hey Joe Mauer, keep squatting in style.
Kansas City Royals - Hmmmm....yeahhhh, I was right about you guys. It doesn't really look good for you at this point unless if you go on a late summer tear through the beefier teams in the league. I'm taking that we're having some bullpen issues, yes? This is what the trade season is for. Look into it. You won't be sorry.
Cleveland Indians - I swear to God it's just Manny Acta being Manny Acta with his Manny Acta suckage stench spreading all over the clubhouse. Believe me, you're trying, but sometimes a bit too hard. I almost feel bad because I look at your roster and go, "Hey, you were good at one point," or, "Hey, you were involved in the Cliff Lee trade," and then realize that you're suffering. Poor boys.

West Division: (Order in Win/Loss column as of the All-Star Game)
Texas Rangers - Go go Texas Rangers, duhh-nuhh-nuhh-nuh-nuh. There I go again trying to put "Texas" where "Power" should be. Who cares? It fits at this point. You're at the top now, and I feel lousy for saying that you were going down the same path the Florida Marlins usually go down when they have a lot of young guys. Josh Hamilton, I admire your work. No lie. PS - I hope you guys like Cliff Lee.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - LAAA!! There we go! We're looking better now! After nearly crashing and burning in May, you look a lot healthier and a lot angrier. I like grit in a team, now go chew some heads off. I like the way your pitching is going, but I'd like to see more versatility at the plate...the batting averages need to go up a tad bit higher, mmkay?
Oakland Athletics - You have no idea how excited I was for you guys. Was it interleague play? Is it your age/experience? You win good games and then get blown out three days later. Consistency is key, my friends. "Reagan sleepy."
Seattle Mariners - Oh, hey! I remember you guys... I had high hopes for you too. I mean, you totally bombed in May, and since then you've been trying to pick up the pieces. It only seems like certain guys are carrying the team anymore. I wish you the best from here on out.

National League

East Division: (Order in Win/Loss column as of the All-Star Game)
Atlanta Braves - Whooaaaaaa, worst to first since April. These sleeping giants were awakened and came back with a vengeance. The pitching looks a lot better, and the offense keeps getting better and better. Turner Field is definitely the bane of a lot of teams that so happen to go in there expecting a win. Jason Heyward is definitely still in the running for Rookie of the Year. Hopefully he comes back for that injury, right?
New York Mets - So far, their revenge on the Phillies is going well so far. Even though they're only a half game ahead, their home record is keeping their hopes alive for Wild Card contention. The offense is doing quite well, but there have been some erratic plays in the infield as of late.
Philadelphia Phillies - This, my friends, is what happens when you get plagued with injuries. With injuries to Rollins, Polanco, and Utley throughout the season, there's been a lot of hair pullin' in Philly. Much to all fangirls' dismay, Jayson "Edge" Werth is going on the market if a juicy looking player becomes available for trading.
Florida Marlins - I feel bad for these guys. This team always has promise, and at times both the offense and defense/pitching just doesn't gel together. Do you think that's why Fredi Gonzalez was fired? Their pitching staff, led by ace Josh Johnson, looks great on paper, but I guess when you face decent pitching on the other side, it doesn't always work out. Hey Hanley, I hope the Derby didn't mess up your swing, son.
Washington Nationals - Well, they were up there for a little while, and then they just deflated. Even after Stephen Strasburg's call-up, the Nats still don't supply the proper runs support for a good outing. I would rant about why Strasburg is overrated in particular aspects, but that's another day and another blog entry. Pudge and Zimmerman are still kicking more butt than ever, on the other hand.

Central Division: (Order in Win/Loss column as of the All-Star Game)
Cincinnati Reds - Dusty Baker, what did you feed these guys? After mastering the excellence of bullpen pitching and stellar power hitting that leads the NL in batting average, we have a balanced team. Regardless of how old he is, Scott Rolen is still an excellent third baseman, and I absolutely love the power-throwing outfield. I just feel bad that the Phillies screwed them over in three straight extra inning games this past weekend. D'oh! Oh, and hi, Mike're definitely a contender for NL ROY.
St. Louis Cardinals - These guys are still hanging by a thread. Pujols and Holliday are still rocking out in the 3-4 slots, and despite a few injury problems, they're still staying in contention.
Milwaukee Brewers - These guys are doing a lot better since their massive lack of everything issue back in April. Their month of June was absolutely hot, and although they crashed and burned coming into the All-Star break, here's to hoping that they relive June again. Prince Fielder certainly hopes so.
Chicago Cubs - Ouch, darn that Billy Goat. Interleague play didn't look so great, did it? Carlos Silva's pitching looks absolutely great, and despite the breakdown of a lot of players (cough cough Carlos Zambrano cough cough), there's still hope for these guys. I'm pulling for you! I really am!
Houston Astros - Well, you don't look as pitiful as you did in the beginning, which is a good sign, I guess. However, and I mean however, your team batting average is near the bottom, and I think we're gonna have to work on that. Are we having little problems in the clubhouse or little kinks in muscles?
Pittsburgh Pirates - Awww, sorry guys. I'm glad to see that you're getting a strong fanbase despite your misfortunes in overall batting average and in pitching ERA. You still aren't out of the woods yet. You have big enough names in your lineup that you can still make it out of the hole by the end of the season.

West Division: (Order in Win/Loss column as of the All-Star Game)
San Diego Padres - Bud Black, what did you feed these guys?? I remember when the pitching staff couldn't get half decent outings last year, and look at what you're doing! You're pitching is tops in the NL in ERA, and that's enough to salvage your sub-par team batting average. What's up, Adrian? Are we relying too much on pitching? You guys will be even better once your offense starts waking up enough to look more intimidating.
Colorado Rockies - It's UBALDOMANIA!! However, I can't stress enough that your excellent hitting doesn't kick in when you have your good pitcher in. Your lineup rocks, guys. Can it work inside of 'Baldy's starts? You're all known to get hot in the second half, so I know this will be a stellar fight to the finish and you'll come out on top in the division or the wild card.
Los Angeles Dodgers - Ugh. I hate it when this happens. You have a great offense, but your pitching lacks some of the time. The LADs definitely love to hit as most of the games which they win contain more than a 5-spot. I love the top three in the NL West. The top teams in the National League looks so tight this year, and I love it.
San Francisco Giants - This is what happens when you guys are great, but don't work together as far as good pitching days and good hitting days altogether. When you come up strong, you lose tough games afterward. With power guys like Panda and your new Pat Burrell action figure, I expect you guys to heat up and make things more interesting as the summer season heats up.
Arizona Diamondbacks - What can I say? It's the pitching. Oh, who am I kidding? It's sometimes the hitting too. You're in the basement in ERA and close to the bottom in team batting average. I guess firing AJ Hinch wasn't enough. Three managers in less than two whole seasons. There's always next year, right?

Well, that about does it for the slant at the halfway point. Expect the third and final installment before the 2010 Postseason finally begins. Who will make it this year? Hard to say. The top three slots in each division are very tight and it's anyone's shot this year. I like the chances of a lot of teams. I know, I'm indecisive. Deal with it.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Thoughts on the World Cup

After thirty days and countless vuvuzela complaints, the 2010 FIFA World Cup is finally coming to a close. Thirty-one teams have fallen, and the last team standing is the nation of Spain. After falling numerous times in the finals, Spain finally had their day against the Netherlands, going 120 minutes and squeezing out just one goal from Andres Iniesta (wooo FC Barcelona). Sorry kids, no headbutt action here this time around, although there was an interesting little call when someone took a shot to the chest with a spike. Why that wasn't red-carded, I'll never know. That'll be mentioned later on in the entry.

Knowing how good Spain is, I called for them to take it this year with Brazil being the runners-up. Obviously, I was half wrong. I can't tell you how many upsets there were in the World Cup in general and how much money I could have lost if I were to bet money in these matches. <-- Say NO to gambling.

I have a lot of thoughts and comments on what went down during the World Cup. A lot of them are negative reactions toward this past month, other ones are just random tidbits that I have opinions on.

1. The Jabulani ball used throughout the World Cup is a piece of crap.
A lot of the players were heavily complaining about the ball during World Cup qualifiers as well as the matches during the Cup. At first thought, I just thought they were being a bunch of sissy-nannies and should have sucked it up. After looking at some of the physics and statistics of the ball, a lot of things started making sense to me, such as why there were so many bad crosses or a lot of inaccurate free kicks/penalty kicks. Due to the threading form and design of the Jabulani ball, the wind resistance of the ball did some funky stuff to it. From a source found by a physics major, the ball will begin to knuckle at 44 mph. That's not fast at all for some players' shots. If you watch some slow-mo replays, you'll notice the ball making awkward and sharp movements in the air, and totally messing up goalkeeping judgments. Games that come to mind quickly in which that has happen have been the past couple of knockout stage games that Uruguay have played. Diego Forlan totally used and abused the ball's knuckling ability.

2. Most of the officiating during the World Cup was beyond poor.
I can't tell you how terrible the officiating during the Cup was without swearing like a sailor. I'll try my best to give you a PG-rated response to it: WHAT THE HELL??
See, it was so bad that offside calls were either nonexistent or so obvious that they weren't called, the carding was ridiculous, and fouls were called on things that never happened. Remember that nonexistent offside/foul call on Maurice Edu against Slovenia? Remember that disallowed goal against England while playing Germany? Remember that disaster we call Japan vs. Paraguay? Exactly. I understand that you need to have particular credentials in order to officiate during the World Cup, but does one of them include "missing one huge call during each game?"

3. Diego Maradona: Football coach by day, mob boss by night.

I guess he gave Lionel Messi an offer he wasn't allowed to refuse...

4. I am not surprised Italy and France were eliminated early in the group stages.
I'm being dead serious. I really didn't think the top two teams from the last World Cup were going to make it that far. A lot of players have come and gone since 2006 (cough cough Zinedine Zidane cough cough) and both teams didn't look structurally as good as they did back then. France literally looked pitiful during their group games and although Italy looked good on paper, they didn't mesh well together. That's okay, Theirry Henry, you can come on over to the MLS Retirement Home and look good again.

5. No Ronaldinho?! CRAP!
I bet Dunga really wanted to kick himself in the dunga after getting numerous death threats from Brazilian fans and getting knocked out by the second place Dutch. Congratulations for basically handing yourself your own rear end, dude. Ronaldinho, after being called one of the greatest footballers that ever lived, wouldn't you be asking yourself why you didn't make the World Cup team? It's okay, I would be too. Considering that you're 30 and still having a decent career with AC Milan, I would be scratching my head just as much as you did when you were cut from the team.

6. Adidas curse? Pffffftttt.
Okay sure, every guy that was involved with a sports product-related commercial [Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Messi, etc.] was eliminated in the tournament, but really? Blaming a commercial? Oh God, I know most sports are filled with large egos, but I don't think sponsorship alone can be the cause of upsets and eliminations. Stop acting like they were all eliminated in group play--each guy (except for the man mentioned in #5 because he wasn't even involved at all) made it relatively far in the tournament. No man is an island, my children.

7. Ghana killed every bit of the US actually beginning to embrace the sport.
Ghana took down the US in the last Cup too, and now the game of futbol will still be a lowly sport in the United States for the next four years. Sigh. Darn you, padded, fat guys.
PS - S-O-S! (lol at Kofi Kingston reference)

8. Was 3D really necessary for this event?
Yeah, I like the idea of 3D as much as the next guy, but I wouldn't be so thrilled to see someone shoot a 3D snot rocket before they start running on the field. A 3D diving Cristina Ronaldo wouldn't be so mind-boggling either. Let's keep 3D in the theaters, shall we?

9. The vuvuzelas really didn't bother me at all.
I know that it's more annoying to hear when you're actually at the stadium, but I'm going to be honest. If you're a real futbol fan, you're going to tune out the sound on the television by either your own interest of what's going on down on the pitch instead of what's going on in the stands or the simplest way--the mute button. They've gotten controversial as of late; the buzzing noise has been blamed for hearing loss and have been huge in drowning out calls and team talking down on the pitch. Is it skin off my nose? No, but I kind of do feel bad for all of the people that will go "WHAT?? CAN YOU SPEAK UP" when they get older.

10. This event will never cease to bring an ailing country together.
For you history buffs, you know that this country has been in a lot of turmoil over it's history. Sure, the World Cup alone isn't going to unite a country, but it's going to bring them together in peace over something everyone enjoys in some way for a short period of time. It was awesome to see 91-year old Nelson Mandela during some of the events despite the murder of his great-granddaughter at the beginning of the tournament. It was also great to see the big turnouts for each match and how many were cheering on teams other than their own. Great stuff.

I love watching big events like this. It's a shame that it has to end, but in order for the feeling to stay good and fresh, it has to be in short bursts, like the one month out of every four year time period that has been set. To a lot of people around the world, futbol is a religion, and the World Cup is their Christmas. Everyone's favorite footballer comes together and plays for the biggest title in the whole sport. To me, the World Cup is like a showcase of how a sport is treated outside of this country. The World Cup is my way of feeling the magic emitted from so many people that I don't know who are coming together for two things: glory and unity. I wish that magic was as powerful in the United States as it is in a place like Spain or Italy or Germany. I can still dream, right?


Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm sorry, PETA, but this is the cutest thing ever.

Everybody, say hello to Paul.

Paul is an octopus. He is about two years old, which is considered very old for an octopus. Why am I writing about him? He's gotten some international attention during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Before this, he has only been making predictions for the German National team as a sort of oracle. Due to his great predictions (10 for 12 thus far predicting Germany's games), he has now predicted Germany to beat Uruguay in the third place match and for Spain to win the final against Holla--The Netherlands.

How does he do it, you ask? Like this.

Two boxes with the corresponding team flags are filled with food (fish). Whichever box Paul chooses is considered the "prediction."

Okay, here's my rant:
PETA doesn't like this. This is because he is placed in "confined spaces" and is treated unfairly in obtaining his food, causing him suffering. PETA, if I may ask, wasn't he born in a reserve? If he was born in the wild, I would totally understand your position. Wait...why am I saying "born?" He was hatched. Good gravy. Anyway, since he has been raised this way for two years, there is no possible way he could survive out in the wild and obtain food for himself. Isn't it easier for anyone to obtain food when it's all in one spot anyway? It's like a fishy supermarket for him.

Animals aren't stupid, either. Most especially common octopi. They can determine shapes and examine many things with their tentacles. They can unscrew jars, for cripes' sake. Paul might know what we're doing too. It's like when we train dogs and cats to not go to the bathroom on the carpets in the house. Okay, Paul's not a domestic pet, but he was raised in a docile environment, and his environment has given him the adaptive qualities to be a passive and simple creature. He isn't being tortured, he's actually being babied a little. If he didn't like it and felt like he was in danger, the keepers would certainly know about it. But anyway, he is getting old, and he won't be doing this for much longer. Who knows? Maybe since he's in a reserve, he'll live a little longer or something. He has an interesting little trait to him, so maybe he's meant to stick around longer than usual. Isn't God awesome like that?

(EDIT - I love animals. Trust me. I just have a spiritual hunch that animals are meant to have more characteristics than from what we know from examining them out in the wild.)

But wait, there's more!!
There must be more to his power, right? Well, the Argentinians think so. According to recent (dead serious) reports, this little old guy is receiving death threats. He won't have any of it though. He'll survive, kids.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Extreme Makeover: SNB Edition

Hokay, not a sports-related post, but one worth noting.

NEW LAYOUT. you like it?

I still have all of the old banners and photos from the last one, and I honestly felt like giving this place a new and improved look. I kind of wished I saved the old template, but oh well. Life goes on. I understand the Brian Dawkins in the banner is from his Eagles days, but there weren't any "epic looking" ones where he's in a Broncos uniform. With that said, I'm going to continue tweaking the place when needed, because the whole blog in general is a work in progress, and I'm hoping to get more readers soon. Please. I beg you (I don't beg much, either). Please please please if you read this blog, comment on here so I know I'm not doing this for my own health.

I originally wrote this blog to improve on my writing skills--and political correctness, mind you--and for people to critique my ideas and my style. I almost stopped this place back in April because I wasn't getting any responses--wait, my sister commented on a few of them; thanks, Jen--and I didn't think I was going anywhere with this place. But let's be serious here, over the past few years, I've found writing to be very therapeutic, and I enjoy writing about things I like; ergo, I write about sports and how much I love them. Sure, not everyone will like what I think, but isn't that normal? Being a rebel is some cool stuff, y'know. Anyway, for those of you who have read this blog at some point since it's inception in February, you guys are great, and I appreciate you for stopping by. In my life so far, I have found it heartwarming to make people smile and laugh over my awkwardness in life or my spontaneous wisdom. I live not just for my successes, but for paying it forward to people who are having a rough day. I try to do it as much as I can in work, and I try harder every day to make a person's day less stressful.

I hope I can do that for the blog readers out there as well.
Thanks for reading (so far).

-- Stephanie

...Is it a sin that I want Jewish Apple Cake right now after posting this picture??

The "For Sale" Series - Cliff Lee

Okay, Rod Roddy, what's the next item on our list?

"A BRAND NEW CA-- ...Cliff Lee!"
(Awesome 'The Price is Right' music is played here.)

Okay, so our lovely item here is a 2008 AL Cy Young award winner who went from Cleveland [Rocks] to Philadelphia in a mid-season trade last year and literally tore it up in the 2009 Postseason.

Then Philadelphia went back to pursuing Roy Halladay just like George W. Bush went back after Osama bin Laden while being sidetracked by Saddam Hussein. In December, the trade was made, and my dearest 'Cliffie' was gone to the Mariners. Since then, Roy has been a god on the mound, and the Phillies give him no run support. Good trade?

Well, the Mariners don't think so anymore. They're looking to beef up their team in order to get that run support that their starting rotation needs. It's tradin' season, and the Mariners are looking to put this man's blood on the market. Just their luck, a lot of sharks are circling this one, and they are all willing to fight to the death for him.
A lot of teams have already shown interest in him, including the LA Dodgers, the Minnesota Twins, the New York Yankees and Mets, and of course, the Phillies--the guys who originally ditched him. Certain teams are willing to dish out massive cash for him, others are willing to give some of their starters up to get him.


Who will get him? From the looks of things, the Twins are looking mighty pretty to Lee, and the Mets are coming in a close second. It would take a Christmas miracle for the Phillies to get him back (or it could take Jayson Werth, for that matter). Seeing him in a Twins uniform could most likely make the AL Central mad--or even jealous if you're a Wahoos fan. However, their pitching is faltering, and getting him could be the best medicine for the Twins--even the Mets. But let's be honest, I wouldn't want to see that because A - I'd be torn, and B - I'd be prejudiced against the Mets even more because I live in Philadelphia and it's almost my job to show a bit of hatred toward New York sports.

Anyway, that's it for me. I'll have to see who else is on the market. I bet Johnny Olson could help me out on the next one.

"You bet I could, AZ!"
(NOTE: He never said this. He's actually dead.)


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The "For Sale" Series - LeBron James


Yes my children, I'm actually going to talk about this. Most people who are unfamiliar with the NBA will still likely know who LeBron James is. Jeez, he's only been in so many advertisements and has been mentioned numerous times on other sports broadcasts. For starters, he was drafted out of high school and has played with the Cleveland Cavaliers since the 2003-04 season. Where is he now? Free agency, of course. His contract recently expired, and practically every team in the NBA is fighting to the death to get this man they call a "King"--well, everyone except Miami, since they just got Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh today, which is a nice little rebound (no pun intended).

Anyway, several teams have come up as huge candidates for this big guy. Notable teams that have come up in conversation include the New Jersey Nets, the Chicago Bulls, and the New York Knicks. Hmm, interesting...three teams near the bottom. It's might not be that he hasn't grown out of his "teamwork" personality, but it looks like he wants to be a big standout star and a--instead of "King"--monarch in another city. He's been visiting teams for nearly two weeks, and he'll finally spill everything tomorrow night during a press conference.
Where do I think he'll go? Since I'm not an NBA fan, I'm going to be a rebel and say that he's going to sign with a team that nobody expects he'll sign with. If I'm really going to have to choose, I'd say he'll go with the Knicks. They haven't won a 'champeenship' since '73, and they're still a growing team that needs a bit of a boost. Not only that, people will want to see some more magic at MSG (or Madison Square Garden for you who don't like abbreviations). James will definitely want to go to a sports-heavy city and get some crowds riled up for a night of showboating and skill.

I understand this wasn't a real blog or anything, but what else is there to write about? I could tell you about what teams have already offered him, but this isn't the point of the blog. I just want to show my opinion and the ultimate lack of it (in all honesty too). I did my best, right?

I'd actually like to do more of this, so I made this a series. I'll most likely do some more familiar things next. For those who know me personally, I'm pretty sure you'll know who the next one will be...
Cliff Lee, duh.