Just be Cuz.


Sometimes life imitates art. A scowl had turned across the big dude’s expressive face as he entered the tunnel. Looking around for a hater/heckler, he eventually spotted someone he knew, walked over and gave them a non-nonchalant high five. Slowly, as he chatted a wide grin spread across his face and replaced the mean “I’ll […]

Madness Paradox wrapped in March Enigma


And, yes, I know Duke is 27-8. And, yes, I know no school has ever received a No. 1 seed with eight losses. But only two of those eight losses are sub-50 RPI losses — and those two sub-50 RPI losses came by a total of six points. Kansas, by the way, also has two sub-50 RPI losses. So does North Carolina.”

by CBB blogspert Gary Parrish, CBSSPORTS

Ode to Kansas


KPtfaNz Front

Ode to Kansas

O’ worthy foe from days of yore
Tradition proud as ours is lore
Your crops grow tall, tho’ harvests wait
From whence you sewed, so did ours grow great
To leave you wanton, at heaven’s gate.

The fiery chant, your minions stoke
The rhyming stomp to wrest our yoke
From town to village, from field to stalk
Now is the time to Walk the Walk
A Nation waits… to Rock your Chalk.

Your blood flows Red, so ours does Blue
The mighty sword to change its hue?
We’ve vanquished Devils, you’ve given toe to Heel
While B’ruins rust on memory’s feel
A round legend grows thru’ times spinning wheel…

So… it’s down to you or us, but it’s ours to steal.

-30-

wildcats8back

Tiger’s Woody!


A golf ball.

When you let your big stick do the talkin’
That “Parade of Porn”, with Paparazzi stalkin’
Snarly rough, traps-a-plenty; deep cut bunkers and nowhere to hide
When deciding to “lay up” was the riskier choice
If but for only that large amount of green and those swooshed titanium balls
would the World’s Greatest Scrambler survive a wretched 18 ho’s
Trading an extremely high handicap for a life of buried lies

Hardly checking which way the wind was blowing, knowing there are no mulligans
An egregious slice that wouldn’t fade, a train-wreck hacked so far out of bounds
You must have quit counting the lost strokes and calculating unplayable lies
Your balls dropped beyond the line of sight, but seemed ever further from home
Where money bets had long since been counted as lost in that first (wet) box
The truth is inside the ropes there’s plenty of trouble if you really want to hang yourself

Undulating backsides, luscious perky sloped tees, low cut cups waitin’ for loft and backspin
Manicured lovely, playin’ tight and long, and gorgeous to behold
Beautiful layouts you easily managed with your deft touch and artistic feel
Driving long and deep in middle of short Bentgrass, Bermuda soft, lush, and accessibly close
But, when instead of backing up, they began checking up, you started running fast and away
Ambien fueled Ambien fooled, once seeing a break, banging a sweet stroke… then nailing bottom of the ho’
The Ooohhs and aaahhs, moaning adoration, soon became belligerent bellows of, “Who’s Your Daddy!”

Stiill… YOU; lost deep in those woods but refused to take the normal penalty
Forsaking those easy birdies and model wife, with grim head held high you steadied your stance
Defiantly asking us to imagine that you were simply one more, ‘Par for the Course’
And so… pretty soon your Iconic magic grip you held over us loosened… until it vanished
As if you were raining bad behavior, your short game was turning into a slippery sloped Karmic wreck
Now cynical crowds yelling “Pussy Cat, knock it stiff”, or chanting “here cums Tiger’s Woody!
Perhaps an omen to us all… but for you Tiger… it signaled the Boogeyman had finally come… to stay.

Carolina (still) on My Mind


With the recent passing of basketball coaching legend Dean Smith, memories of being a KENTUCKY/Louisville fan in the heart of Tobacco Road flood my memory. To me, Dean was the best basketball coach I’ve ever had the joy of watching, but then…

deano

I remember the moment I became an ABC’er (Anybody But Carolina) as clear as if it were yesterday, although it happened almost 37 years ago.

It was March 3rd, 1978…

Having grown up in Louisville, Kentucky and ripe with a BA from J-school at Morehead State University, I had three days earlier piled everything I owned into my 1973 Chevy Impala, weathered 30″ inches of fresh Kentucky snow through the craggy West Virginia coal country, zagged Southerly down Interstate-77, and finally zigged over the foggy Southern Virginia Appalachian mountains.

In a lush green North Carolina valley I finally unloaded my gear to begin my new life, and new job in Greensboro, NC. Though I’d only been there briefly in the month before (for my job interview), it had then seemed to me to be a friendly, habitable place. You know, well lit.

This was my first day in my new position as Sales Trainee for a small fast growing real estate publisher. It was around 4:30 p.m. as I sat in my sparsely furnished office, shuffling papers around wondering what I might pretend to be doing for the next hour or so.

After an eager tap on my door, a toothy well-dressed man slid in, smiling and shaking hands.  “Hi I’m Geoff Wolfe, the VP here. I hear you’re from Kentucky? Me? I graduated from Chapel Hill, that’s as in No..r..th Ca..ro..li..na. Basketball,” he offers and grins Cheshire cat-ishly.

“Pleased to meet you, and yes I’m from Louisville, went to Morehead State University. Uh, that’s as in Kentucky… as in Big Blue Bas..ket…ball,” I chided, eager to see that I’m talking to a basketball fan from another great traditional power. (At that time in March 1978 Kentucky was ranked number 1 in the country, with Twin Towers so big that airplanes could never bring them down).

“Well…”, he frowned then looked serious for once. “You know… Kentucky couldn’t play in the ACC”, he says matter-of-factly. “They’re number 1 right now only because they play in such a weak conference. They could never play our schedule.”

Then he shot a few ‘air-free throws’ looking away, he had tuned me out before I could offer rebuttal. He propped his shoes up on my desk. He shoots from deep.”Ford, from Franklin Street. “Yeesss”.

I gulped. I stuttered. My face flushed and I suddenly could smell my underarms overpowering my deodorant. I was stunned as he played his semi-silent game of air-shoot-ball, complete with the “hRaaahh” of crowd approval after each made shot. He made ’em all.

Looking somewhere in the distance, out the window I imagined being back over the NC mountains in the friendly confines of Kentucky. I sat silently while my brain lurched for clever, nervously ‘doing the math’ on what to say, on what could I say to this 4-corner Neanderthal. And, one whom it seemed, owned me…

Finally…”Uh, well… Uh Mr. Geo… uh Smith, that’s bullshit about how we can’t play in the ACC. Really, I mean that’s kinda…. stu…pid. No really, that’s f**&king stupid,” I muttered very low and gravely, but mainly to myself.

“Yeah… well, welcome to ACC country”, laughed Smith with his stupid smirk, still grabbing rebounds and making cheering putbacks. Then just as quickly, he’s up and out my door, his arrogance forever starting a fire in my heart known only to a true ABC’er.

————-

One month later I celebrated both Kentucky’s fifth Natty against a formidable Duke team, and the recent news of Geoff Smith’s firing… by yelling and hooting it up at the then-and-now famous “Four Corners” bar, in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 

“Hey everybody”, I squealed to an uninterested few with both job and basketball safe from the idiocy

“I hear that Kentucky couldn’t play in the ACC! Well, looks like we just did!”

jack

I lived in North Carolina for most of the next 24 years, enduring the basketball I.Q. equivalents of some 17th Century cultists, sometimes arguing college basketball religion along the way. Though I made many friends in NC, I’ve hated the Baby Blue with a fervent passion since that first Geoff Smith swish.

I worked with Duke University and the University of North Carolina during many of those years, but rarely talking Kentucky basketball with the infidels. I had a press pass at Cameron Indoor for many games/years and witnessed some thrilling Duke-UNC tilts there. The truth is, just as we Kentucky and Louisville fans have and understand, they both have much basketball tradition to be proud of.

Though I was always careful not to root for Duke, and always against the Tarheels, I admit to a little Dean Smith envy during much of that time. No one could get more out of the last 30 seconds of a game than The Dean.

But in all that time I loved the Cats and Cards and Kentucky basketball, traveling to see them play wherever and whenever I could, and partying years with the rest of Big Blue Nation.

Having lived in North Carolina for so long, I came to know every argument for/against Duke, Wake, NC State and UNC upside down and backwards. Though it got to be a tougher argument through the years, there’s one thing I can say from true life experience, and from having lived in and being around both basketball crazed states… Kentucky and North Carolina. At the end of the day…

“THERE’S NOTHING LIKE KENTUCKY BASKETBALL.”

A Hacker Comes Clean (not Russian)


golball

I tee it. I see it. I feel it. I be it.

I aim it. I shake it. The Tiger. I wake it.

I peel it. I’m on it. Doggone it. Can’t fool it.

I slice it. I splice it. Pull-hook it. No dice it.

 

I’ll rule it. I’ll school it. Re-tool it. I pool it.

I find it. I Time it. Unwind it. Unkind it.

I stalk it. Don’t talk it. I bark it. Can’t park it.

I know it. I show it. Don’t get it. Can’t flow it.

I wear it. I swear it. I think it. Don’t care it.

I preach it. Beseech it. Then leech it. And beach it.

 

I pledge it. I wedge it. But hedge it. And fudge it.

I toe it. I heel it. I wheel it. No deal it.

I trust it. I bust it. Then budge it. Too much it.

I rough it. I tough it. Can’t bluff it. E’nuff it.

I gut it. I pitch it. I putt it. I bitch it.

I live it. To give it. I bet it. Regret it.

 

 

I stink it. I skunk it. I shank it. Go bank it.

I wank it. I hank it. I sky it. Then buy it.

I press it. Then fade it. The bet? I pre-paid it.

My swing. I don’t hate it. The cold water. I wade it.

My game it. Too lame it. To shame it. Or blame it.

My score it. Won’t show it. Love to play it. And I know it.

-3o-

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rise of the Naked Sportsblog King


According to my read-test, most Sportsbloggers (aka: Blogsquirt-asorus) apparently know a good bit less about the sport in which they have type-spouted their esteemed opines than they do of basic Journalism101, which itself appears not to be a qualifier of their education, talent, and/or experience of either endeavor. IMHO, today’s internet media Sportswriting hard-scrabble of blog buddies, well… […]

Re-post: Why Americans aren’t completely into soccer… yet. (opinion)


watermarked_thumbnail

THIS was written shortly after Spain had beaten Netherlands 1-0 in the 2010 World Cup final. It is a re-post, but the ideas are still prescient

You may have heard that FIFA, the governing (futbol) body in World Soccer has announced the use of “goal line technology” to be deployed soon at a pitch near you (or at least in the 2014 World Cup). Its funny, because my ideas (below) caught a rash of shit from the nay saying purists (read: foreigners) who bellowed that it would never happen…  and hell, it wasn’t even on the table back then. I mean, should an American even have the right to suggest changes to this venerable game?

When it comes to Soccer, Americans know nothing, right? But does America really  hate “the beautiful game”? Soccer is the second most popular sport by participation among children under 15 in the U.S. Our Women have dominated the sport for years, becoming the most dominant team in any international sport. Is it long before our men catch up with the rest of the world and make a WC finals? Probably, but give us another 12-16 years and…
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (video game)
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (video game) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

2010. I’m American and a soccer fan.

Unfortunately, I’m already feeling withdrawals from the thought of four years of semi-hibernation sans-soccer about to commence.

Like many soccer fans I watched most of this year’s World Cup, read a ton of internet articles, and listened to this year’s flavors of talking head, who all weighed in on “the beautiful game” and America’s ambivalent attitude towards it.

Though I’m not an expert by any stretch, I am a fan who has watched soccer from the outside for many years. I played American collegiate soccer over 30 years ago at a Division 1 college in Kentucky, though back then the game was nebulous as to the meaning of “American”. Like many American college teams, we were a collection of decent foreign players and renegade American sports athletes who for various reasons no longer graced their once chosen sport, or who had played high school soccer at one of the few schools who fielded a team. I was an ex-distance runner with average soccer skills who was recruited on-campus after I decided to forgo my track scholarship. After graduating, I played club soccer in North Carolina for about 10 years. Now, my experience comes exclusively from my thousands of hours addiction to playing video game maker Konami and EASports PES and FIFA soccer on my PS3.)

What changes are needed to create more fan interest in the game here on American soil?

Besides America actually winning, American sports fans care about two things in sports: excitement and fairness. World Cup watchers got a first-hand look this year at how the lack of these two things can drive Americans crazy, and perhaps keep us from embracing the world’s most beautiful game. In fact, the World Cup has been rife with “cheating” in the past, in the form of egregious “flopping”, sometimes changing the complexion of the entire Tournament. Scoring? Oh my. Last year’s final was a 1-0 affair with the winning goal (Spain) softly rolling off the goalie in the side of the net after a gentle Iniesta nudge. But was it boring? Not to anyone who actually watches the game with interest.

I personally don’t like penalty shootouts and don’t feel they are the best way to find the real winner of matches. I like better the Golden Goal rule where the game is played on the pitch until one team scores… then it’s ballgame. Also, weaker teams can play for a tie in hopes of winning a shootout. Playing to tie makes it much easier to actually end in a 0-0 tie, giving the weaker team almost a 50-50 opportunity.

1. Scoring –

People all over the world love GOOOAAALS, yet Americans are criticized for their “lack of depth” because they want to see more of them. To say that Americans under appreciate the richness or unseen nuances of soccer is to trivialize our ability embrace sporting value, without giving serious thought to the underlying issue. Long gone is the day when to be an American at a world soccer event was a curiosity. I’m tired of apologizing for our soccer to the world, and listening to people from everywhere tell me how we just don’t get it.

It is true that I found the Spain-Netherlands game the most exciting game of all even though the final score was 1-0. The final game may have been a let down to many, but isn’t that the way finals go many times, with over-expectation? The entire event was a low scoring affair, as it is many times when quality teams play one another.

The problem with this as I see it; unless there are changes made we are doomed with 1-0 or 0-0 finals forever. Great teams are not about to give up 2, 3, 4 goals in today’s game, and two great teams…well…?

The world wants GOOOAAALS!

During the World Cup I heard all kinds of opinions concerning America’s attitude toward soccer, many of them ridiculous. If America thinks soccer is boring how do you explain our obsession with baseball? If it’s just that we can’t understand the game in its’ totality, who is going to tell our women, who are the most dominant sports team in the history of International Sports?

FIFA, the governing body for International Soccer must agree that scoring more goals is important to the future health of the game, and not because of the “stupid” Americans. The Jubillane (ball) was introduced at this years’ event for one reason: more goals. It failed to produce.

I suggest that the goal be made two or three meters wider and a meter taller to allow for more scoring opportunities with well placed shots. Many goalies today are superior athletes and can block even the best aimed, most twisting and screaming shots, resulting in many games being decided by fluke goals or lucky, but weak chances. It also means that there are more terribly bad shots because of the increased pressure added for the low margin for error. This is not how sport is supposed to work, and I suspect many Americans sense it.

Why not give these great athletes a better chance to display their talent to the world? A great shot should be just that… an untouchable missle blasted just outside the even the swiftest goal keeper‘s reach, something rarely possible in today’s game. Even the final WC goal by Spain was knocked down before landing softly inside the goal. I dare say more goals roll into the back of the net than ripple it.

With a slightly larger goal there will still be the finesse of the flip shot in one-on-one situations as goalies will adjust to the larger goal area with earlier, more aggressive charges in order to cut down angles. Forwards and halfbacks will try slightly deeper shots once again with hopeful success; something rare in championship soccer today because of the evolving skill of today’s goalkeepers. a larger goal means the game will not be considered over when a team goes up by two or three goals,unlike it is today. The “hope” of scoring is just as important as the notching the goal itself to the fan of soccer. I think FIFA should give everyone more hope.

2. Officiating –

I am continually amazed at how many sports governing bodies have been able to ignore the onslaught of new technology when it comes to officiating. It seems that human officials have become the “sacred cow” of many sports; the one thing that must not give in to change. Frankly, I don’t understand the value proposition. What good reason or reasons are there for not getting more accurate results in a sporting event? The 2010 World Cup was an example of how protecting the purity of a sport may also be how to eventually destroy it. Game after game missed calls affected or potentially affected outcomes, leaving one to wonder at times which team was pre-destined to win?

Having played competitive soccer I know that every game endures bad calls and good calls, some favorable and others not. It is sometimes very difficult to identify the offender and the offended in a physical game like soccer where neither player owns possession in a strict sense. The World Cup officials were criticized for many calls which were made that might not be questioned in a regular contest. The magnitude of the event rightly or wrongly leads to magnification of every call and the WC officials are somewhat always in a no-win situation. Yet, at this year’s Cup, it seemed yellow cards were shown to players for simply playing hard, and even worse: Hollywood style faking by their opponents. Video captured these moments to FIFA’s embarrassment several times during the competition. Yet, there was no make-up call for the actors and the tragedy unfolded in horror for those falsely accused and their fans.

In soccer it is mandatory that calls be correct near the goal (inside the box) due to the excessive severity of a penalty. Time and again video replay busted the official calls or no-calls in the area, one of the most debilitating events which can happen to a team in soccer. Though the officials didn’t prejudice one team, they missed calls on every side.

Hey FIFA, what’s up? Can you explain this…?

Is it merely cost that stops FIFA from using video to insure that teams and titles aren’t lost simply over bad calls? Is it time? Techno-phobia? Why are we so entranced by humans who are only all too “human”? I could go one here forever, but I’ll constrain myself to this:

America will never love a sport where such contradictions exists. Yes, we hate to lose badly, but mostly we hate to lose unfairly. And who wants to win a Cup marred by so many blatant mistakes by officials? OK, you won’t hear any Spaniards complaining, but that’s about it. There are a number of teams this year who could say that the whistle cost them a game and maybe the Cup.

I hate crybabies in sports and believe that the mistakes somehow seem even out over time. But I think FIFA owes the sport a better deal.

FIFA should “embrace change”, America’s mantra of the eighties and nineties when we finally convinced ourselves that technology and change does not always mean bad. Almost every industry experienced game changing rules at record setting pace as technology advancement forced us to reconsider our most cherished and hallowed traditions. In sports we witnessed technology’s effect with a wary eye and slowly made changes where needed. Golf, one of the most traditional sports lengthened and re-designed courses to offset better equipment and stronger players. Basketball keeps moving the three point line and reducing the shot clock. Baseball built bigger parks and limited ball and bat technology…Every sport has had to re-evaluate and make needed changes to enhance and maintain their core value.

I think some limited use of replay has a place in soccer RIGHT NOW, not next time around. It’s imperative to get the calls right and to keep the game honest if America is to participate on every level. But for this to happen changes must be made, if only in small increments. FIFA seems to be unmoved by the controversy but changes might help America’s attitude toward the game improve.

Evolution has taught us that life, the world, and the universe is dynamic. Small improvements over time lead to larger overall positive results. Listen up FIFA!

Nowhere did it exclude the beautiful game of soccer.

-30-

I picked Holland over Spain in the final of my ESPN Soccerpick fantasy bracket based on a junk “home-team” theory I developed when I realized no African team was strong enough to win it all. My other picks were pretty good too, except for one glaring mistake: USA. Even though Uraguay won my WC when I played a completely computer driven WC Simulation with PES2009 on my PS3, my heart said USA would make the final four this time. Never listen to your heart when picking sporting event winners. You can check out my picks (mostdiggity) at http://games.espn.go.com/knockout/en-us/frontpage.

In 2014 you will see USA escape the Group of Death after Beating Ghana (finally) and tying Portugal and Germany. The USA will advance one more game before getting Gobsmacked by Spain. Germany (I think) is destined to advance and spoil Brazil’s party, then beat Spain in the final game 2-1 for their 4th World Cup win. I was in Germany in 1990 and 1994 when they were at their strongest. Germany plays like a fine uh… German Automobile. With precision.
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THERE ARE 18 COMMENTS. SHOW SPEED READING TIPS & SETTINGS ↓

I do agree with better officiating but….
I don’t think we need to have higher scoring games, that’s just ridiculous and takes away that intense feeling that these players can score at any minute. I think what Americans fail to appreciate is the fact that they can score at any minute, instead of having the mindset of “when are they going to score”. A lot of my friends were very bored by the final, but honestly I thought it was good solid game, it was physical, it had the right momentum, and it all culminated in an amazing shot. If you can watch baseball, why can’t you watch soccer? that’s one of the most baffling points that I also fail to understand. I do think that people are becoming more and more interested partly due to the FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer Games, It tends to teach people the basic rules, strategies, statistics, things Americans love, but often misunderstand.

by TerpsAllTheWay on Jul 12, 2010 12:31 PM EDT actions
I think everyone who was watching learned just how amazing a 1 goal game can be when landon put the winner in against Algeria. I’ve said it many times, so i guess i’ll say it again, the reason soccer isn’t wildly popular in America isn’t because Americans don’t like soccer, it’s because theres such obscene amounts of money to be made with football. Why? because theres a thousand opportunities for commercial breaks during a football game. Soccer has precisely 1 break for commercials. ESPN and the like will pay attention to soccer during the summer when sports are slow, and they’ll pimp the EPL because it’s on early in the morning, and they have nothing else going on at that time so it’s better than nothing. But when college football or the NFL is available? You’ll never see the big sports networks get behind soccer, theres just not as much money to be made.

by GKINMD on Jul 12, 2010 2:19 PM EDT actions

Premise of the whole article is wrong
MLS is having great attendence – up 10% in a down economy that has MLB down 2%. TV ratings for MLS are even with NHL when put on comparitively accessible tv stations as well.

Records were set for American viewership of WC’10 South Africa. With all its time zone differences and what-not it was the most watched World Cup in US history.

So if this is going to be the best year for the domestic league, and the best WC why are we claiming that Americans don’t care?

I am not a Supporter | I am not a Fan | I am a Sounder
Sounder At Heart
by Dave Clark on Jul 12, 2010 3:20 PM EDT actions

I think one way to can increase scoring in soccer is to eliminate the offside rule. I don’t know how controversial this would be, but it seems like it would do the trick.

As to officiating, I think having one ref for each half of the field (they’d both be on during play) would eliminate some of the bad calls that seem to happen simply because the ref was far away and couldn’t do anything about it.

Hockey Blogger at Pensburgh.com
by GoPens! on Jul 12, 2010 6:25 PM EDT actions

Eliminating offsides
would change the game in a horrible horrible way, the game would suffer sooooo much

by I need more Esteban on Jul 13, 2010 10:19 AM EDT up actions

Yes, slow ass piss poor defenders would no longer be bailed out
by Cool Dudes on Jul 14, 2010 1:32 AM EDT up actions

Seriously?
slow ass piss poor defenders? How about the offsides trap? How about cherry picking? Offsides is intricate to fielding a good game. What fun would it be if someone just stayed at one end of the pitch and continuously fielded balls after a long kick? That would make the game terrible.

“I will never have my best season,” Brian Dawkins
“There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee
“This fucking game is over!” Chuck Bednarik
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” Mike Tyson
by Talon Talent on Jul 15, 2010 12:41 AM EDT up actions

Yeah, the “offsides trap”
A defense that rely’s on the proficiency of the linesman to actually be competent AND see perfectly to ensure that a goal is not scored.

Fucking brilliant! You should coach France! You would be great!

by Cool Dudes on Jul 16, 2010 12:37 AM EDT up actions

wow didn’t realize you could simplify it so easily.
The offside trap is not without risk as a perfectly timed ball will leave a defense watching the cleats of a forward as he streaks for a one on one opportunity. It may not be a “brilliant” defense, and yet how often has it saved a team? Anything that works as well as it does might very well be considered brilliant.
And it also amazes me that with everything I wrote there, the only thing you could dispute was the offsides trap part of it.
Simply put, soccer without offsides would be terrible. If you are looking for high scoring games watch basketball I hear they score like 80 points on average or something.

“I will never have my best season,” Brian Dawkins
“There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee
“This fucking game is over!” Chuck Bednarik
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” Mike Tyson
by Talon Talent on Jul 16, 2010 10:59 AM EDT up actions

Dude
There’s not enough time in the day to dispute everything you are saying that’s wrong. I just concentrated on the funniest part.

by Cool Dudes on Jul 16, 2010 2:46 PM EDT up actions

Nice. I take that as victory. Thanks for playing

“I will never have my best season,” Brian Dawkins
“There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee
“This fucking game is over!” Chuck Bednarik
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” Mike Tyson
by Talon Talent on Jul 16, 2010 10:04 PM EDT up actions

I disagree and disagree. Goals should be a treasured event. The scoring of a goal in soccer is one of the best moments frowarded to the players and the fans watching. It is because they are harder to come by. I mean if the goals were coming by the handful who the hell would want to be a goalie for the sport? All the attention would be put on forwards (as it often is now) and at the core of humanity is the need for recognition and love. This is why offensive players are usually more coveted in every sport. if anything soccer gives the defenders a more equal chance to shine.
Instant replay for soccer is always and always will be a bad idea. To put it brief (because I already explained it in Disappointedleafs fan World Cup Controversy fanpost) The fluidity of soccer can not be messed with. The momentum part of soccer is so crucial and Instant replay would take that away completely.

“I will never have my best season,” Brian Dawkins
“There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee
“This fucking game is over!” Chuck Bednarik
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” Mike Tyson
by Talon Talent on Jul 12, 2010 10:04 PM EDT actions

disagree
only in part.

I definitely agree that the fluidity should not be messed with too much but there HAS to be goal-line replay and replays on offsides when they involve goals.

You will have an official in the booth who watches a replay and relays the outcome to the head official in a matter of seconds. This would not mess with flow by any means, in fact, it might speed things up because you wouldn’t have to wait as 6 players argue with the official. This is 2010, you can make these things happen fast.

by I need more Esteban on Jul 13, 2010 10:23 AM EDT up actions

Somehow the NHL seems to be able to recruit goalies and keep their players from taking a smoke break during goal reviews
Not sure how they do it. Maybe we need some sort of secret Canadien technology.

by Cool Dudes on Jul 16, 2010 12:48 AM EDT up actions

The Final Was the Most watched soccer match in U.S. History with a record 24.3 Million Tuning in.
by TerpsAllTheWay on Jul 12, 2010 10:59 PM EDT actions

Agree or Disagree
This was a well-written post.

I don’t think I can jump on board with the widening of the goal. Like many have said, the rarity of goals are what make them so special when they do happen. What more Americans that don’t like Soccer need to realize is that the excitement of the game comes on opportunities to score. With every cross into the box of the opposition, you hold your breath that this could be the one that loses you the game, maybe even in the first 10 minutes! That’s why every minute matters and every opportunity is so special. When Americans that don’t enjoy the game realize that they may jump on board.

But hey, not everyone likes every sport and that is fine. I just wish our society could get past hating so hard on soccer. There is not a sport in America that more shit is talked on than soccer. Although, I do know a lot of people that hate pretty hard on baseball these days. I live in Kansas, though, so I run across my fair share of bumkins who throw out, “err soccer is so f’n borin’, let’s go watch us some g’damn Nascar!
End rant on that.

Agree with you about technology. Get with the times FIFA. I said it above, but goal-line technology and technology on offsides involving goals should be implemented in some ways. I mean the goal that England didn’t receive and the goal that Tevez scored on the non-offsides call were inexcusable. Do it incrementally, experimentally, just do something.

by I need more Esteban on Jul 13, 2010 10:31 AM EDT actions

If Soccer Had Just Been, or Was Just Being Invented
You would be totally correct. They made the goals too small, the advantage the goalie has using his hands over players using their feet is too much. But the goal is the size of the goal and I really doubt that will ever change (except perhaps as a good way to break a tie in extra time).

But, I really think there are some less drastic rule changes that could be made. A ridiculous number of goals get called off because of the offsides rule, and a lot are really borderline calls. I would really like to see offsides become more of a zone rule not unlike what they have in hockey. The intent of the rule is to prevent poaching and continous longballs, but it wasn’t well thought because a lot of calls are made after the ball is already in the box, which really makes no sense. I would really like to see this rule changed.

While the size of the goals may be sacred, I really don’t think the offsides rule is very universally loved and people would be far more willing to change it.

by Cool Dudes on Jul 14, 2010 1:39 AM EDT actions

No…
I think that the majority of Americans would watch it. But they refuse to watch it out of fear that they might like it. And that is enough for them not to give it a chance.

The Once and Future King
by FlaGators on Jul 21, 2010 3:53 PM EDT actions
Comments for this post are closed, bro.

Russ not-so-diculous Smith… Man of The Year


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I’ve been a Louisville fan since growing up in the South End there in the late 1960’s. In those days Wes Unseld held down the post while Junior Bridgeman (oops wrong year… it was Butch Beard) drilled bombs that would now-a-days be NBA threes. I was also a Kentucky fan back then, as my limited scope at 11 only suggested that both teams were from my home State; and for me… that was good enough. I cried after the 1966 Finals when Kentucky lost to Texas Western. It was the first televised game I had ever seen (if you call a 13 inch B/W TV using rabbit ears at Rough River with fuzzy reception actually “watching”). I remember Louie Dampier and Pat Riley playing well, but Texas Western was loaded with quick athletic jumpers who cleaned nearly all of the glass. No matter how hard we played T-W was relentless and refused to reliquish an early lead. They shot 38 free throws and made 24, while were 11 for 13, because we could not stop (Calipari’s Don Haskins Dribble-Drive).

I could not then, nor do I now understand the hatred that exists between the fans of these two highly vaunted programs at (UK and UL).

Since those formative years I’ve remained a spectator and college basketball fan, eventually forsaking football, baseball, and other sports to concentrate on basketball, and found new love… in playing soccer. After college graduation one generally finds that career and other diversions tend to implore us not to spend so much discretionary time on sports. Somewhere along the way we should also gain a certain “adult” perspective that allows wins and losses to affect us only in “momentary” situations, without changing our personalities or affecting our priorities. I can remember once thinking (as a Cleveland Browns fan), “what if they win the Super Bowl this year?”

My internal answer came back solemnly… “well… you’ll have a hangover at work the next day. And then, it will all be over as quickly as it unfolded.” Of course, I never got to test my theory on Cleveland.

But, I’ve always known that the special UL/UK hate was limited to the fans, but not the players. The players, for the most part all respect one another and truly wish them well when not in direct opposition with one another. This last week, I was incensed after reading a Louisville fan blog, where a number of (so-called) humanoids berated Russ Smith’s game against their hated rival Kentucky. It is the epitome of classless, spineless, little man complex to even suggest that Russ Smith ISN’T the epitome of college basketball. I mean, holy sh&t, without Russ Smith, Louisville wouldn’t be on the map this year?

If I could have traveled through cyberspace I might have strangled someone. I wonder how much sweat these slugs must have lost watching Russ make a mistake or two? The nerve! And I hate to report that this kind of attitude is more commonplace than one could reasonably imagine. I witnessed Kentucky fans dropping  wholesale after every disappointment this year, creating more Calipari is crazy conspiracies than David Icke does aliens are living next door. Now they’ve had to order a new fleet of “bandwagons” to accommodate the repentant.

Of course, as we advance both in age and financially we become further removed from the “good ole days”, as our lives settle down we find time for watching sports again; if only to harass our friends over drinks, use travel games as party excuses, and/or make idiotic blog posts about our two-time First team All-American’s deficiencies. Albeit, we do all this with the same passion and nasty vigor of our youth, unless by then we’ve learned anything about real life. But then, sports chatter using facts and figures can also be fun, even when all you want to do is watch from the couch with family and friends and berate the commentator (I mean homer/hater Doug Gottfried).

hater-2355

The last few years though, I have experienced a gnawing ache, which seems to grow as I follow my favorite teams on the internet on TV and in the news and through internet blogs. Admittedly, (and duly embarrassed) a couple of years ago I began to engage my acute sense of wit (my description of course), knowledge of the game and its history, and uniquely blatant in-your-face writing style to have some fun tormenting those brain-farts whom I felt were less informed about the game I love, or were just plain trolling ignoramus’ who apparently make a life out of denigrating other teams and their fans.

 I can honestly (no self-efficacy here, huh?) say that when it came to words-a-cuffing, I was/am/can be the Mohammed Ali of heavyweight lightning factoid-icule. For awhile I got a kick out of out belittling (some unknown to me poster) with a twisted sarcasm that only I seemed to be able to produce in imaginative volume. For awhile, I admit it was fun…

Yet, it was internally hollow, and I soon tired of out-lambasting some teenager or sock-puppet who could barely spout, “my team is better than yours”, or wax philosophical about some ridiculous straw man argument, whom I quickly leveled with a few light jabs and then an overhand hay-word-insult-maker, landing him on his back not even attempting to answer the keyboard beep.

I particularly loved sparring with more intelligent fans (unarmed with my modestly? over-the-top imaginative hater vocabulary); unfortunately they too sometimes lacked the Ali-dance-cleverword-shuffle or even the hack-a-fact, and I found myself mocking them before finally throwing a swift combination Ali would have marveled at. Canvas. 1-10. Boom. K.O. Next…

It was easy especially if you’d ever read Darrell Huff’s book, “How to Lie With Statistics”, the most widely read book on quantitative analysis ever written. And if you’ve happened to have read his sequel, “How to Tell if Someone is Cheating With Statistics”. then…BOOM! Tysonian.

Thankfully, those days are done-skeey and I lament remembering some of the verbal beatings I gave. Almost…

Occasionally I can and do get drawn into a minor word wrestle with a formidable foe (likely because they have said egregious ignorant things with uncommon pride and arrogance instead of understated objectivity) whom I sense cannot go the whole fifteen rounds… even though I recognize my latent memory is beginning to escape me .

I’ll set ’em up with some obscure factoid, wait for the bell of my chosen round… then simply wind-up-round-house them before they can type, “Google”. Trust me, I had to learn a plethora of one punch put-down lines in Louisville’s South End growing up and I remember most of them.

But, I swear it’s ONLY because I hate the hater…

 …and so I dose ’em with a dash of high-test-hate-o-line (then an throw uppercut to the super-ego with a lit match thrown in for good measure). BA-BOOM!

True is dat. But this a confession, even if it sounds arrogant, because I’m sorry… especially after what Louisville’s Russ Smith has recently taught me.

The following statement by arguably the best player in the nation over the last two years exemplifies the notion of

CHAMPION

 better than I or anyone could ever express with any brand of kindness or venom.

THIS IS WHAT EVERY COLLEGE FAN SHOULD LEARN TO RECITE.

 Russ-not-so-diculous is, as of now my ALL-TIME favorite college basketball player:

Can anyone find something NOT to love about this guy? I don't think so...
Can anyone find something NOT to love about this guy? I don’t think so…

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Those who play the game (just like MOST OF US likely remember when playing sports), respect one another; it’s the fans who are LAME. Stop it you friggin’ idiots! It is a game. You have to work tomorrow either way, so STFU… (I know, I know… sure… its the refs fault).

Because in the end sports are about sportsmanship (learning how to win, and how to lose), not winning… and especially not whining like your 7-year old. It’s about enjoying true athletic skill which the common man can only appreciate with a certain awe. It’s about competitive fight, 100% effort, and all without cheating; and learning to LOSE well as well as WIN well. Well?

That trait alone makes one Russ Smith a true hero, and a real man. Those who play the game respect one another; it’s us fans whose ignorance is more than made up for by our lack of intelligence.

I mean, it’s a shame that stupidity isn’t painful…

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Stop the hate, fans of whom-ever-in-the-rat-fk.

It is ONLY a game that you ONLY participate in vicariously. Your kids will still have to go to the Dentist tomorrow, so please STFU with the crybaby stuff.

And… unfortunately it is the fans of my beloved State of Kentucky (equally offensive UL and UK fans) who are among the worst offenders. Some of these Neanderthals have professional jobs and careers. I mean, I love Kentucky though I’ve lived in North Carolina just as long, and now Florida nearly as long.

I’m still a UK and UL fan to the bone… because…

There’s nothing like basketball in KENTUCKY. I just hope it stays that way without us making fools of ourselves any more than we have already… well, all of us but those young inexperienced players on our teams… Bye Russ! I’ll miss your style, your smile, and your helter-skelter…

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moneyball- the-rabbit-hole-continued


moneyball

It’s been three years now since Greensboro Attorney Vance Kinlaw, a friend and ardent supporter of his alma-mater, UNC-Law told me that he had sold his season tickets which had held forever, disavowed his relationship with the sports programs, alumni association and the university, and does not follow UNC sports anymore. PERIOD. Vance explained that his growing difficulty with supporting the Tarheels because of the blurring lines of amateur sports finally reached its zenith at a home game when he noticed that the press row tables had suddenly become advertising space during games. He was disappointed to find little support among the UNC Board of Governors, who were adamant that the signs were not infringing on the idea of amateur athletics and were necessary to insure financial success of the program.
Vance Kinlaw, having his undergrad as a Phi-Beta-Kappa Dartmouth, is a man of principal who sees college athletics from a pure and ethical moral perspective. He threw in the towel, disavowed his association and financial contributions to the school altogether. Hmmm? Are there others? Will enough follow?
 

EDITORIAL opinion / MONEYBALL

Someday, when the doin’s done someone may look back at the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament and identify it as the time when the big ship’s hull was breached and the rushing water could no longer be kept from flooding the “unsinkable” NCAA organization. For now, the band is still playing but there have been some reports of icebergs, and the captain hasn’t fully disclosed these troubling issues to the passengers. It’s full speed ahead.

If one needs some blatant signal to consider if the NCAA has stooped to cashing in on every angle this year one has to look no further than ticket prices. This year over last, prices are up 33%. Did anyone announce a basketball shortage? The NCAA has finally caved to the idea that it’s all about MONEY and is only barely trying to hide it.

They are acting like a deposed dictator who is scooping up as much as he can carry to make a last second smash-and-grab before the inevitable flight to asylum.

ncaachart

Of course, everyone knows that there are serious cracks which Ed O’Bannon’s class action suit has exposed, and the lengthy legal proceedings have limits to the amount of time they can be forestalled. O’Bannon’s legal team is nothing else if not persistent, matching the NCAA’s legal stable motion for motion answer for answer for several years. Some expect that a hearing looms low on the horizon. Several legal experts also feel O’Bannon has the upper hand. If so, many think it could be the organization’s fatal blow.

Could this year’s tourney be a sign that there’s blood in that rushing water too?

NCAA-money

If not, then the NCAA has blatantly announced that they are in TOTAL control of the situation by offending the fans, their constituents, the media, and even many of those who earn their over-the-top salaries under their sponsorship with the obvious unfair manipulation of the tournament brackets, seedings, and (both immediate and possible) matchups.

This year, they have run out of excuses that could mitigate the vitriol spewing forth from the public. Of course, hurting one team always helps someone else so they have their supporters too. But, this year they have defied ALL LOGIC despite what happens in the tourney (we all remember VCU in 2011 reaching the Final Four from the play-in game, although many argued that they hadn’t done enough in season to qualify). And though while that may have been true, Shaka Smart may have unwittingly given the NCAA a future license to steal.

ncaa-tournament-statistics

The “selection committee” meets for hours behind closed doors in strict confidence, allowing no one to witness the “incredibly tough” job they are thanked for doing each year. And, I know that it must be a tough job even if they’ve already pretty much got the framework together by Selection Sunday. I mean, Athletic Directors are supposed to be paying attention all season long, right? This isn’t exactly Talent Search, where there is no historical reference point for each contestant. No, they ALREADY  know and have alluded to as much by suggesting the Sunday games really can’t change anything except perhaps a swap of seeds with two teams in the same conference.

Last year, as always, NCAA scapegoats justified unfortunate seedings to disgruntled fans and experts by pointing out the obvious cases where their mistakes made them look good (as is inevitable as the Sun rising no matter who does the seeding), adding for the still skeptical that beginning 2014 they would finally de-emphasize (the old RPI algorithm) in favor of more advanced metrics used by many teams both  professional and college; The  likes of Ken Pomeroy, John Gasaway, and Dean Oliver to make these “important” decisions. Why not eliminate the RPI altogether since comparatively it was written on papyrus? Of course, because this simply gives the unfortunate bearer of bad news (the committee head) another potential excuse to use when all others fail, though time and time again the RPI has been shown to be an unreliable predictive measurement tool.

Instead, they ignored all of these expert’s statistical tools, even dissing the ESPN BPI metric (a highly sophisticated product which takes into account many subtle metrics that have been used by professional gamblers for years to gain a slight “edge”.

If you’re a betting man, pay close attention; Can you say, opportunity?

dome

This year committee chair Ron Wellman (Wake Forest) confidently answered detractors by using double talk and blatantly lying to the public stating that “of course we used the eye test when considering Louisville’s 4 seed”. But….(cue excuse metric). What had Ron failed to disclose? That he was blind? No, and not ignorant… but stupid seems to fit fairly well.

First, that the committee doesn’t really review much basketball in their 4-6 hour closed meeting finalizing the pairings. They do work hard though, sifting through piles of financial data, seating charts, driving distances, expected fan base participation in ticket sales, community resource income opportunities, popcorn sales, etc. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. But the biggest job is uncovering the “storylines” and potential storylines if certain matchups occur. While one may not consider this as important or useful, remember that the NCAA is paid an astronomical amount in dollars (see above chart) by the media organizations, who all  expect to make profits by sponsoring the extravaganza on TV, radio, internet, print and cable. The media makes money on viewer and readership, by converting numbers to advertisng dollars. The NCAA gets a percentage bonus against a fixed income.

Every dollar counts as reader/viewers/ attendees/ hits, even if it is insignificant enough to pit the defending champ against a team coached by an ex-ball boy for Louisville coach Rick Pitino, ex-player, and ex-assistant coach against his mentor. What a story if Steve Maseillo who coaches Manhattan with a 13 seed can defeat his mentor the defending Champ? Since Maseillo learned everything he knows about the game from Louisville and Pitino and carbon copies EVERYTHING they do, who stands a better chance of an upset? Not many teams in the entire field. Big stories mean big money.

Sorry ‘bout that Rick.

Wellman didn’t fully explain why he inserted NC State in the tourney over SMU, a move no one expected but subtlety understood after Coach Krzyzewski of Duke went public to whine about his conference deserving more teams. Viola, Wake Forest man delivers, keeping the ACC family safe and K on his good side. Of course, there’s no way K would have had to play his ex-players like Harvard and ex-Dookie stars Tommy Amaker’s team, or Johnny Dawkins team from Stanford. Like the legendary Dean Smith before him, Special K and the ACC is Golden with the NCAA (see infractions committed but not sanctioned), and K is King and gets his way at the NCAA. Doesn’t hurt when the Head man is a Duke grad himself, huh?

Most people outside of SMU yawned, notably Larry Brown who knows EXACTLY how it works with the NCAA. It is better to stay silent lest you end up an 8-seed, or 4-seed while qualifying as a 4 or a 1. But Larry and others miss the point. As in any political arena the losers attitudes ARE always more than offset by the winners perspectives when they conform to the accepted media narrative, insuring that “right or wrong” is not just an uncertainty, it’s practically irrelevant (well… by Monday). Then somehow an upset or two will make the media gush over the committee genius, without mention that there are STILL some walking around feeling as if a long stiff object has been lodged in the wrong place… Onward, we march into madness… Truth is, the DISS usually backfires into a determined rage by the most offended.

ronwellman

Ron Wellman, Wake Forest Athletic and Director (of the ACC) explains how the

seedings were “the most accurate in his five years on the committee.”

What is it about the four teams listed on the eraser board?

Call me crazy but it appears that eventual Mid-West Region 8-seed/Kentucky is listed with an eventual 4-seed, Louisville… and then eventual 5-seed St. Louis.
Above these teams is listed an eventual 1-seed Virginia, who was apparently later “replaced with 1-seed Wichita State. Why?
Question: Why would these teams (1,4,8,5) be listed BEFORE THE SEEDING PROCESS without any other participants?
And, whatever happened to the idea that a 5-seed doesn’t get to play a “home” game?

Here’s my take on a fictional conversation (which could… but would never happen, since it is silently understood by both) between Wellman and Rick Pitino, who was upset about being paired with 16-seed Manhattan whose Coach Steve Masiello was his old ball boy, player, and assistant coach. Maseillo “carbon copies” Pitino’s system at Manhattan.

“Nothing personal Rick but the first round lacks stories and CBS can spin this into a million website hits on a bad day this time of year. If nothing else it makes a nice headline, and with hypertext it might turn lead into gold. New York to Orlando flights are on-sale so we expect to fill the allotments there. Of course, you get first dibbs after they return the unsolds. Plus Rick, we like the potential Calipari-Pitino angle… but you know we’d rather not have it in the final four. With both of your passionate fans bases there’s still only 12 million viewers which is small potatoes since they are practically all from the State of Kentucky. But we know they would fill up that cavernous Dome in Indy, and no other two fan bases could come close.

We need big market dramas/story-lines for the FF. Thanks for being a team player. You’re a solid pro and we all like you here and at CBS. They will ask you to do color in some games if you go out early, a nice consolation prize. I know, it’s not winning but it’s compensation (for playing ball, you know… with us). CBS promises you’ll be happy with the coverage they’ve allotted you for special interest stories about the great job you’re doing. Remember, they have faithfully not mentioned your little scandal in three years Rick, out of respect for you and the great job you do. How about some love? You know Rick, if it weren’t for this tourney, your 5 million a year would likely be like 1.5.

Thanks for your understanding and not letting too much of this cat out of the bag. Don’t make us an enemy, instead consider us partners. Steve’s a great kid and we know how you feel about him, that’s such a great story to tell. Even in losing, the publicity is a win for him and I know you love seeing him succeed.

And, of course Kentucky may not get that shot at you, so we like the potential undefeated vs. the defending champ angle if W-S wins that one. And BTW, Kentucky-Wichita State ain’t so bad either but hey, you’ll have the “revenge” factor and “chip-on-shoulder” factor going for you.

Sliding Kentucky into an eight hole can be explained, even if strong rational discourse would annihilate any attempt at justification. There’s a lot of hate for Kentucky right now, so we could have left them out completely and no one would care but BBN. But BBN is where the money’s at, as you already know Rick.

Surely you agree that Calipari needs to be knocked down a notch or two by foiling our last three attempts at bringing him to his knees, and then mocking us on national TV? We’re still seething about 2011 when they lucked through our gauntlet of number 1 Ohio State and then #2 UNC-Chapel Hill. Roy is still peeved. If anybody, you’re the man with the team to do it. It would make your season Rick. Problems are opportunities. Look at the positives. And, of course, if per chance they advance past Louisville?

No worry, we have Michigan and Duke waiting to take care of them, and we both know you beat both last year and have as good a chance of doing it again.

Besides, Kentucky and Louisville have the two best traveling fandom. We need to insure one of you two play in that Dome if we’re to get close to a sell it out. One more thing before you shut the door behind you Rick. Kentucky won 2012, Louisville in 2013. If one of you two wins this year, we’re seriously worried the game itself might suffer. This isn’t John Wooden’s America. Hope to see you doing some TV by the end of the tourney. If not we’d love a Donovan-Pitino story again. That one was BIG last time. Hey, you’re already in the Hall and I’ll bet that extra money and TV time could come in handy. Louisville fans worship the ground you walk on as it should be. Good luck Rick.”

And, my imaginary instructions from Wellman to Committee before/during the seeding on Wichita State:

“But… what about the undefeated returning Final Four team, uh… Wichita State? Great story. Huh? Everyone will tune in. Make ‘em run the table, and the story expands exponentially after every win. But please folks… be sure they don’t waltz into another FF with what a terrible TV market that dreadful town will be. With Michigan and Duke added for seasoning we have guaranteed high-dollar value storylines from day one in the Midwest. And we all know that media/fan bucks are always the highest in the Midwest, IF we get some good markets in play there. But IF W-S makes the finals it will be huge after beating ALL those teams and still being undefeated. Bob Knight will shit bricks! He’s such an ass, I’d love to see his face on national TV if W-S goes undefeated, but I’d still rather ESPN keep him out of the CBS studio.

I won’t bore you with the other regions but they have their built-in stories too, albeit not quite as many. Maybe someone suggests Cincy-Harvard is dubbed “Neanderthal vs. Humanoid”? on their bulletin board and in their storyline notes? Jus’ Kidding… but you see what i’m saying. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if this year the Big Brother-Little Brother theme wins the day again with so many more of those possibilities… and folks love David vs. Goliath, especially in their local markets. There are several more possibilities you should…”

Though the above conversations are fiction, do you believe in the plethora of random chance storylines? Uh, right. With the intertextuality and over-the-top typology inserted into this years tourney, there’s enough “story” to rival the Septuagint-New Testament typology (I mean prophesies).

Of course, Wellman attempted to confidently explain the issues that MOST EVERYONE immediately denounced with double-talk, contradiction, false statements, and inconsistency. It is if he studied the famous book on quantitative statistics by Darrell Huff, “How to Lie With Statistics”, but forgot to read his sequel, “How to spot Cheaters using Statistics.”

The secret revealed? This secular “church”, who is protector and supporter of the student-athlete and proponent/supporter of “One-and-Done” being all about the Benjamin? No. Why? In any large organization today it’s grow or die, and so MONEY becomes its God. The NCAA sanctions the bracket manipulation and the publicly vilified O-&-D because they both mean more money. Publicly though they decry both so as not to alienate too many fans (I mean readers/viewers/hits/etc). What are fans anyway if not a means to an end?

Hypocrisy at it’s finest and highest level thrives at our most hallowed institutions.

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

A cursory look at UCLA’s Alumni position on hiring Steve Alford over moral/ethical conflicts reveals the fact that ethics DO matter to many… win or lose. Many important supporters of UCLA could care less if UCLA wins another Natty, that is if it is done under new Coach Steve Alford. Yes, greed is rampant, but perhaps not totally pervasive at a school with the tradition of pride and excellence John Wooden instilled among their faithful followers during his career span. UCLA supporters don’t count NCAA banners unless they are achieved with a Coach who can emulate the character of Wooden the man, not the Coach.

For Vance Kinlaw and his issue with alma mater UNC, I say… go UCLA fans! And, I venomously hate losing to both those teams.

The NCAA is a proud organization who isn’t accustomed to answering to its detractors and smugly refuses to grant concessions, even when there is little support of their stance from the outside. They are defiant, and  the notion of their being greed driven is scoffed at and discounted as “heresy” by their better-than well-paid executives.

money_god

Reminds me of the Catholic Church, venerable yes… powerful still… but, beginning to struggle with new paradigms that insist on Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals practicing what they preach, and punishing those who don’t or attempt to hide the truth. For too long these problems have been swept under the rug in a veil of silence. Large organizations can and do fail when they resist the notion of transparency, integrity, and fairness or react too slowly to overwhelming disillusionment among their faithful (read: the fans who buy tickets, or the Alumni who donate to Universities).

If I were running the NCAA today, I’d be worried instead of defiant, and honest instead of elusive. Instead of gouging fans of college sports at every opportunity without the  extreme expense of paying players like their Professional counterparts must, or manipulating bracketing and seeding with lame-ass excuses to pacify the media outlets who agreed to the ridiculous contract dollars they demand… I’d take the humble road (never) travelled. I’d have public discussion with college presidents and athletic directors instead of the many back room deals worked out between power players in exclusion. Just ask Rick Pitino about he and Rollie Massimino back in the early days of the Big East. This is high stakes poker.

But their smug, nattily dressed Captain, like his Titanic counterpart is staying the course at full speed ahead. And we all know how that worked out…  I can already feel the drip of water…and hear the muffled sound of rivets popping loose… and too… there’s not enough lifeboats.

This may no longer be John Wooden’s America, but it should be.

the rabbit hole


basketballAn email sent to a friend (Vance Kinlaw) who is a very smart man… a graduate of UNC-Law School and Dartmouth University. Our relationship through the years had centered around both our passions for college basketball where we argued the merits of our respective favorite teams. He recently told me that he had withdrawn his support for UNC and sold his season tickets due to an ethical conflict of interest regarding the University and their selling out to the god of money. I was shocked that this long time ardent supporter had taken such a drastic stance, and at the time a bit flummoxed. Now… I too get it.

Vance,
Once again I must admit that I am squarely behind both the eight ball and the Kinlaw in my pursuit of truth.
I once almost (emphasis on almost) derided your decision to quit the “college game” because of your ethical stance regarding UNC’s Board of Governors and their apparent thirst for squeezing every dollar out of the sports programs without regard to the alumni and their ethics and ideals.
I mean, “it’s just a few advertisements” I remember thinking when you described the billboards along the Dean Dome’s press row, the straw that finally sent you packing and giving up your cherished season tix. I really just didn’t get it fully, although I knew/know MONEY is god everywhere in our culture.
I just didn’t go far enough down that rabbit hole…
Now, after the NCAA Tournament brackets for 2014 have been made public, the rabbit has bitten me on the ass and drawn blood. What a scam! Every seed, every game or chance game has been manipulated by the committee this year for ONE PURPOSE only: Revenue. Period. Ticket prices have gone up 33% since last year!
Of course, it’s probably due to the Attorney fees in the Ed O’Bannon case (lol).
At any rate, I stand corrected, and as always… in a certain awe of your scope…

T.

thom

I Ain’t done with “One-and-Done”


basketball

A comment/letter to John Gasaway, ESPN Columnist

John,

Great work you do for the game and helping folks put in perspective what matters statistically and otherwise in a game played on hardwood, but much better understood on paper. I’ve read you and other number-crunchers for a long time and (mostly) agree on your take. For a betting man, it’s the only way to fly.

As a Catbird (my word for a Kentucky and Louisville fan), and a fan of the college game I grow more and more disgusted with the ignorance, hate, venom, hypocrisy, and irresponsible chest-thumping spewing forth from folks who ought to know better as it relates to issues like “one-and-done”, or whether or not certain coaches are ruining the game (guess who?) by recruiting the nations top talent.

I mean, I was once a “student-athlete” and graduated from a fine University, later became employed, worked my way up from the bottom over the years, and eventually earned the experience and respect to become one of the top individuals in my industry. Somehow all that was factored into my choice of going to college versus working in the sheet metal factory which had held many of my summer vacations captive.

I loved college and everything it was about, especially sports, pot/beer and pussy. But, my ultimate goal from the git-go was that piece of paper (my degree) which admiringly adorns my closet today. I was convinced it was a ticket out of the blue collar world of which I had grown accustomed, and that it would someday pay its promised dividends in cold hard cash. I guess you could say I was about the dash, the grass, the crash, and the gash… but mainly the cash.

And although I won’t go into how I really feel about the “state of the union” and it’s proclivity of injustice for all, I do remember what I thought I knew about a country that espoused freedom, capitalism, equality, and the ability for each individual to choose their own destiny, and then try to make it happen.

Now, how is it that so many seemingly intelligent so-called Americans who grew up on the same diet of (propaganda) as myself feel comfortable assessing the decisions of one-and-done college players as somehow being “their” problem? I mean, if for example Eric Bledsoe doesn’t read as well as you or I, is it his problem or ours? If he tests free agency at year’s end and signs for $12 million a year, was it his opportunity, hard work, and talent that earned it, or ours? Is it his problem, or the Phoenix front office, or the fans who screamed to no avail to get him on contract before the deadline? Of course it’s his, and with his lunch pail in hand he goes to work ALONE every night, and likely has just earned a huge raise for an outstanding job. Now who’s got the problem Phoenix?

You know Eric, how true that problems can be seen as opportunities, huh?

Haters Gonna Hate

So, if a kid and his coach agree that his (and likely his family’s) best financial interest would be better served by leaving the team and going professional, even if after only one year of (that almighty holy grail) of higher education… who am I, or you, or anyone else to feel the need to weigh in NEGATIVELY on his own personal decision that he made based on the information available at the time?

In review, remember that I went to college to ultimately earn more money with my job being the caretaker of that goal. Don’t we all? How many of us degreed princes make $12 million a year? Not many, and damn sure not me.

And what about that scoundrel of a coach who let him get only one year of schooling before shooing him off to future riches and fame? But then, why wouldn’t that scoundrel want to keep him around for another year or two? If I’m a scoundrel, I damn sure would.

Hmmm…?

I realize that fans can be viciously jealous and many times jump on ANY opportunity to spin a situation to their liking. But folks like you (but not you) and the plethora of other so-called “experts” who blindly bandwagon without logic, reason, or considering another perspective are simply irresponsible mouth pieces who feed the delusional masses their daily dose of “what they want to hear”. They sicken me with all their Doug Gottfried arrogance, who all of the sudden knows everything, but can’t seem to ever pick a winner? Oh yeah… good for TV, right.

It isn’t the one-and-done ruination of CBB… it’s the dumbass bloggers, announcers, and writers who are spinning this game into the stupidity garbage dump of hate. And, all because they’re too ignorant or chicken shit to speak the truth. It is the height of hypocrisy and the bane of our existence that we are spoon fed our beliefs without more careful analysis (much like what you, Ken, and Dean have championed over the last 5-10 years). I salute you in the name of OBJECTIVITY, Howard Roark.

Sure, there are ratings and networks and back room deals that suggest that a narrative of disagreement is good for the level of fan interest, thus network stock prices, and thus the NCAA bank vault.

But, WTF?

Can no one with an audience and a pair of balls ever stand up and tell it like it really is? Are we to listen to endless moronic red-faced Bobby Knight diatribes about situations of which he has no knowledge or experience with just because ESPN thinks he’s good television? I can almost hear the ESPN back room snickers from my couch when he starts into his the-way-it-is-ramble-mania.

This talk of “ruining the game” is so ridiculously far-fetched that I have fits of lalochezia just hearing the CBS theme song, but then I mostly revert to a couch burning “tacenda”. Smoldering…

John, I realize numbers are your game and this comment defies strapping it to a chart, and mapping it for visual appeal and understanding. Big data it ain’t. But please, weigh in on this subject with all your objective intelligence so that the common fan can “get a grip” on this thing we commonly agree on as reality.

If you or anyone else happens to disagree with my position, so be it. I am happy to publicly debate the matter anywhere, anytime. But, be fore warned… I’ll come loaded for bear.

The Human Race


race

I listened hard and watched the best. Secretly I’d one day be their litmus test. Late hours and freezing rain could not depress, the drive inside my lifelong quest. It wasn’t easy but I never faltered, the success I worshiped, on effort’s sacrificial altar.

On the day of reckoning, my mind prepared from daydreams of winning. Imagined moments never shared, except a mindless grinning. The fear of failure came nowhere near, compete and win my simple mission clear.

Nervously I toed the line, emotional tension outside-in sublime. I lurched ahead right from the go, then pushed the pace they wanted slow. Some seemed worried and took the bait, others doubted lay back in wait; on my demise they had sealed their fate.

Feeling strong and so relaxed, I stretched my lead never feeling taxed. While I saw turtles they saw a hare, as I blistered laps through the cool night air; on a record pace I had laid my dare.

Seemingly on a gun lap cruise, in retrospect I must have somehow hit the snooze. But glancing back at second place, he was so far back and wore an anguished face.

The crowd all stood with deafened screams, half o’ lap to enjoy my living dreams. That I glanced left is in retrospect my error, sprinting past my right was a nightmare terror.

Sheer momentum surged him in the lead, Read More »

Homers n’ Haters n’ (da)Mastur (de)Baters


dickwadtheory

Historical data with facts and reasons to back em?

All courteous discourse be damned

Intelligence lost in a deep dark sphincter band

Trotting out opinions like… everybody has one

Experts who follow ex-purps, Blogsquirts who can’t write a lead or a lick

Internet Sports Websites; a vast and barren mind-field of Virtual (dick)weed-oligists.

Me? One time follower of Dean Oliver (Mi Deano que Numberino)

Now everybody’s got one,  a statistical guru with matchin’ number-crunchin’credo

The eye test is done-skee, Now its the drumbeat-of-repeato, conceited Eggo, a waffler with a bigger Ego

But, I’ll tell you what you can cram  up your USAs BEST Speedo…

A large wad of green ONE-and-DONE-o, shove that up your Uncle Sam Taxedo, dumb-a- dido

The NCAA. Straight laced but two-faced, laughing all-the-way to the… Johnny Cashed (not burned)

Dressed all in Folsom black, ring-of-fired up monied Coaches, BIG money not shared but stashed.

Call your raise little Homer-boy, and go up another notch just to see you show your red-faced gash

Mindless Babel, no pecking order, a Tower of  Trash talking knee-walking Monkey see-do commentators

Imagined a smarter retort?

Instead I’m reading between lines of the yellow teethed keys you gnashed.

Feel insulted? I can only hope.

Oh yeah, you-da Homers N’ Haters N’ The Mastur(de)Baters…

(All alone) on/under your keyboard, a Johnny-Cum-Later with everything and nothing to say.

Brainless Brainfarts spewing ignorant insult jism, eventually we all need knee-waders

Not the self-deluded Fanboy who incessantly yells “cheaters and one-and-doners”.

No, these… the loser “haters”who bury their hearts and their heads bad-mouthing everything,  even their own mashed potaters

Please, tell me who can discuss Sports intelligently anymore…besides the Cabbies and the Waiters?

YOU ignorant fans without rational rhyme or reason to believe, just wearing.school colors makes you feel smart looking lame. You got NO game.

and remember, you can’t lose if in the bigger picture it doesn’t really matter… so, until it does… I think I’ll read ya later.

-30-

Get a life if all you have to look forward to is vicarious victories by your faved team, son.
Get a life if all you have to look forward to is vicarious victories by your faved team, son.

Kevin%20Ware%20injury_Reuters

THE HATE ON

Oh yeah… it has become Madness alright.

The twitter buzz lit up only minutes after University of Louisville reserve guard Kevin Ware landed poorly on his right leg in the Sunday (April) 2013 NCAA Tourney Final Four matchup between the University of Louisville and Duke University. But, as Ware was writhing on the floor and sending an entire nation watching to the bathroom sickly holding onto their dinner, a Syracuse fan tweeted to the world about Ware’s “wild background story”, then further hinting that it was Ware who had been responsible for the University of Central Florida’s NCAA probation issues.

Though Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated (and NY Times) later attempted to minimize his tweet as only “providing background” to Ware’s story, most college basketball fans who know Thamel’s sensational yellow-coated writing style were left to speculate as to his real intentions. His timing couldn’t have been worse. Even Thamel was smart enough to retract and retreat, and explain away in re-tweet after re-tweet.

All Too Sweet, Pete.

Thamel, a Syracuse graduate and fan, and personal friends of both Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski has made a living denigrating college basketball programs (outside of Gaudy Orange and Deep Blue Sea Devil) that don’t exactly meet with his personal “holier than thou” biases. If some heads-up Louisville fans and other intelligent sports fans hadn’t caught the ill-advised tweet, he likely would not have felt the urgent need to diareah-ically (my word not Websters) apologize for the Ware tweet. Thamel makes his living digging up dirt in Sports on players, coaches, and teams he also happens to dislike (read: they are better than his faves). He gets dirty too, sometimes.

By contrast, following the Cuse-Indiana Elite Eight game in a video interview with Syracuse’s Michael Carter Williams, fans were shown how the team’s players feel about one another (see NCAA video). Williams calmly and warmly spoke of his team’s biggest rival this year, Louisville, and showed the real side of competitive student athletes, rather than the one “so-called” media experts, haters, homers, trolls, and irresponsible fans-from-hell would rather have us believe. MCW is the rule, not the exception, and it has always been this way. Off court and on, competitors respect their adversaries to the point of rooting for them when they are not immediately diametrically opposed.

Sorry haters… the players just don’t feel the way you do about their rivals. Instead, they like them and wish them well. I repeat, there’s no HATE between College Basketball teams’ players…or any other sport for that matter; it exists only in the heads of their idiotic fans.

STOP THE HATE. IT’s way out of hand and way out of DATE. But, is it too late?

Seriously, what has happened to sports fandom today? The gloves have come off when one of the most respected newspaper’s (NY Times) own Sportwriter(s) fails to show good sportmanship in our virtually twisted-tweet world of Twitter-by-instant messaging? I mean really, does it make one a “cockroach  and a bandwagoneer” (as I was recently dubbed on a UL fansite by some nit-wit troll posing as a human and a Cardinal fan) if he/she is lucky enough to root for two teams from his home state ALL-his-life (in my case its called “Kentucky”), and only if their names happen to be “Kentucky” and “Louisville”?

Must I really choose between these two teams as several (anti-UK) UL fans demanded?

And hey… does it really hurt slime turtle, since it’s only megahertz… U foo-bean!

Well… uh, I graduated from Morehead State University. Must I be their fan, and that of no other team in this solar system? Ouch! Oh really now shit-for-brains, because which little Bimbo-boy says it must be so? You? He-he. HA!

But hey, I usually don’t go on my favorite teams’ Fan-site to argue ifs, ands, and maybes with brain-numbing stupidity, or to spout in-your-face electro-insults to moronic retardos like you, but instead (as in UL’s case) to simply celebrate our “RedBirds-of-a-Featherness” if only for but a brief, albeit passing moment.

Can U Dig it mumbo-gumbo? This better be good if you want to hold my attention little man!

Though, admittedly it can cause me to type ever more venomous and poisonous thoughts of my own hate-stew, word-wrestling with me can be an exercise in futility for the typical dyed-in-the-wool Hater. I admit to knowing that lame-brain banter makes me eventually start to yawn and becomes tedium, and so I normally lose interest in the verbal one-upmanship after one or two touché….zzzzzzzz

But, to say you win? Never.

When the Louisville-Duke game ended on that Sunday, Guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Souliman both of Duke, quickly embraced their Louisville counterparts as if to say, “Congratulations guys on a great game, go on and win this thing”. And love him or hate him, Coach K was his usual class actin’ self-debasing-self in a loss, and when describing his respect for the players and the game his team had just endured. Was NO one taking notes?

Such is the State of Hate in Sports, and in Sports Journalism today. And I for one…HATE it.

And who really cares what Pete Thamel thinks? He’s a Cockroach.Screen-shot-2013-02-07-at-10_18_18-PM

-30-

Does America Really Hate the Beautiful Game?


watermarked_thumbnail

THIS was written shortly after Spain had beaten Netherlands 1-0 in the 2010 World Cup final. It is a re-post, but the ideas are still prescient

You may have heard that FIFA, the governing (futbol) body in World Soccer has announced the use of “goal line technology” to be deployed soon at a pitch near you (or at least in the 2014 World Cup). Its funny, because my ideas (below) caught a rash of shit from the naysaying purists (read: foreigners) who bellowed that it would never happen…  and hell, it wasn’t even on the table back then. I mean, should an American even have the right to suggest changes to this venerable game?

When it comes to Soccer, Americans know nothing, right? But does America really  hate “the beautiful game”? Soccer is the second most popular sport by participation among children under 15 in the U.S. Our Women have dominated the sport for years, becoming the most dominant team in any international sport. Is it long before our men catch up with the rest of the world and make a WC finals? Probably, but give us another 12-16 years and…

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (video game)
2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (video game) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

2010. I’m American and a soccer fan.

Unfortunately, I’m already feeling withdrawals from the thought of four years of semi-hibernation sans-soccer about to commence.

Like many soccer fans I watched most of this year’s World Cup, read a ton of internet articles, and listened to this year’s flavors of talking head, who all weighed in on “the beautiful game” and America’s ambivalent attitude towards it.

Though I’m not an expert by any stretch, I am a fan who has watched soccer from the outside for many years. I played American collegiate soccer over 30 years ago at a Division 1 college in Kentucky, though back then the game was nebulous as to the meaning of “American”. Like many American college teams, we were a collection of decent foreign players and renegade American sports athletes who for various reasons no longer graced their once chosen sport, or who had played high school soccer at one of the few schools who fielded a team. I was an ex-distance runner with average soccer skills who was recruited on-campus after I decided to forgo my track scholarship. After graduating, I played club soccer in North Carolina for about 10 years. Now, my experience comes exclusively from my thousands of hours addiction to playing video game maker Konami and EASports PES and FIFA soccer on my PS3.)

What changes are needed to create more fan interest in the game here on American soil?

Besides winning, American sports fans care about two things in sports: excitement and fairness. World Cup watchers got a first-hand look this year at how the lack of these two things can drive Americans crazy, and perhaps keep us from embracing the world’s most beautiful game. In fact, the World Cup has been rife with “cheating” in the past, in the form of egregious “flopping”, sometimes changing the complexion of the entire Tournament. Scoring? Oh my. Last year’s final was a 1-0 affair with the winning goal (Spain) softly rolling off the goalie in the side of the net after a gentle Iniesta nudge.

1. Scoring –

People all over the world love GOOOAAALS, yet Americans are criticized for their “lack of depth” because they want to see more of them. To say that Americans under appreciate the richness or unseen nuances of soccer is to trivialize our ability embrace sporting value, without giving serious thought to the underlying issue. Long gone is the day when to be an American at a world soccer event was a curiosity. I’m tired of apologizing for our soccer to the world, and listening to people from everywhere tell me how we just don’t get it.

It is true that I found the Spain-Germany game the most exciting game of all even though the final score was 1-0. The final game may have been a let down to many, but isn’t that the way finals go many times, with over-expectation? The entire event was a low scoring affair, as it is many times when quality teams play one another.

The problem with this as I see it; unless there are changes made we are doomed with 1-0 or 0-0 finals forever. Great teams are not about to give up 2, 3, 4 goals in today’s game, and two great teams…well…?

The world wants GOOOAAALS!

During the World Cup I heard all kinds of opinions concerning America’s attitude toward soccer, many of them ridiculous. If America thinks soccer is boring how do you explain our obsession with baseball? If it’s just that we can’t understand the game in its’ totality, who is going to tell our women, who are the most dominant sports team in the history of International Sports?

FIFA, the governing body for International Soccer must agree that scoring more goals is important to the future health of the game, and not because of the “stupid” Americans. The Jubillane (ball) was introduced at this years’ event for one reason: more goals. It failed to produce.

I suggest that the goal be made two or three meters wider and a meter taller to allow for more scoring opportunities with well placed shots. Many goalies today are superior athletes and can block even the best aimed, most twisting and screaming shots, resulting in many games being decided by fluke goals or lucky, but weak chances. It also means that there are more terribly bad shots because of the increased pressure added for the low margin for error. This is not how sport is supposed to work, and I suspect many Americans sense it.

Why not give these great athletes a better chance to display their talent to the world? A great shot should be just that… an untouchable missle blasted just outside the even the swiftest goal keeper‘s reach, something rarely possible in today’s game. Even the final WC goal by Spain was knocked down before landing softly inside the goal. I dare say more goals roll into the back of the net than ripple it.

With a slightly larger goal there will still be the finesse of the flip shot in one-on-one situations as goalies will adjust to the larger goal area with earlier, more aggressive charges in order to cut down angles. Forwards and halfbacks will try slightly deeper shots once again with hopeful success; something rare in championship soccer today because of the evolving skill of today’s goalkeepers. a larger goal means the game will not be considered over when a team goes up by two or three goals,unlike it is today. The “hope” of scoring is just as important as the notching the goal itself to the fan of soccer. I think FIFA should give everyone more hope.

2. Officiating –

I am continually amazed at how many sports governing bodies have been able to ignore the onslaught of new technology when it comes to officiating. It seems that human officials have become the “sacred cow” of many sports; the one thing that must not give in to change. Frankly, I don’t understand the value proposition. What good reason or reasons are there for not getting more accurate results in a sporting event? The 2010 World Cup was an example of how protecting the purity of a sport may also be how to eventually destroy it. Game after game missed calls affected or potentially affected outcomes, leaving one to wonder at times which team was pre-destined to win?

Having played competitive soccer I know that every game endures bad calls and good calls, some favorable and others not. It is sometimes very difficult to identify the offender and the offended in a physical game like soccer where neither player owns possession in a strict sense. The World Cup officials were criticized for many calls which were made that might not be questioned in a regular contest. The magnitude of the event rightly or wrongly leads to magnification of every call and the WC officials are somewhat always in a no-win situation. Yet, at this year’s Cup, it seemed yellow cards were shown to players for simply playing hard, and even worse: Hollywood style faking by their opponents. Video captured these moments to FIFA’s embarrassment several times during the competition. Yet, there was no make-up call for the actors and the tragedy unfolded in horror for those falsely accused and their fans.

In soccer it is mandatory that calls be correct near the goal (inside the box) due to the excessive severity of a penalty. Time and again video replay busted the official calls or no-calls in the area, one of the most debilitating events which can happen to a team in soccer. Though the officials didn’t prejudice one team, they missed calls on every side.

Hey FIFA, what’s up? Can you explain this…?

Is it merely cost that stops FIFA from using video to insure that teams and titles aren’t lost simply over bad calls? Is it time? Techno-phobia? Why are we so entranced by humans who are only all too “human”? I could go one here forever, but I’ll constrain myself to this:

America will never love a sport where such contradictions exists. Yes, we hate to lose badly, but mostly we hate to lose unfairly. And who wants to win a Cup marred by so many blatant mistakes by officials? OK, you won’t hear any Spaniards complaining, but that’s about it. There are a number of teams this year who could say that the whistle cost them a game and maybe the Cup.

I hate crybabies in sports and believe that the mistakes somehow seem even out over time. But I think FIFA owes the sport a better deal.

FIFA should “embrace change”, America’s mantra of the eighties and nineties when we finally convinced ourselves that technology and change does not always mean bad. Almost every industry experienced game changing rules at record setting pace as technology advancement forced us to reconsider our most cherished and hallowed traditions. In sports we witnessed technology’s effect with a wary eye and slowly made changes where needed. Golf, one of the most traditional sports lengthened and re-designed courses to offset better equipment and stronger players. Basketball keeps moving the three point line and reducing the shot clock. Baseball built bigger parks and limited ball and bat technology…Every sport has had to re-evaluate and make needed changes to enhance and maintain their core value.

I think some limited use of replay has a place in soccer RIGHT NOW, not next time around. It’s imperative to get the calls right and to keep the game honest if America is to participate on every level. But for this to happen changes must be made, if only in small increments. FIFA seems to be unmoved by the controversy but changes might help America’s attitude toward the game improve.

Evolution has taught us that life, the world, and the universe is dynamic. Small improvements over time lead to larger overall positive results. Listen up FIFA!

Nowhere did it exclude the beautiful game of soccer.

-30-

I picked Holland over Spain in the final of my ESPN Soccerpick fantasy bracket based on a junk “home-team” theory I developed when I realized no African team was strong enough to win it all. My other picks were pretty good too, except for one glaring mistake: USA. Even though Uraguay won my WC when I played a completely computer driven WC Simulation with PES2009 on my PS3, my heart said USA would make the final four this time. Never listen to your heart when picking sporting event winners. You can check out my picks (mostdiggity) at http://games.espn.go.com/knockout/en-us/frontpage.

In 2014 you will see USA escape the Group of Death after Beating Ghana (finally) and tying Portugal and Germany. The USA will advance one more game before getting Gobsmacked by Spain. Germany (I think) is destined to advance and spoil Brazil’s party, then beat Spain in the final game 2-1 for their 4th World Cup win. I was in Germany in 1990 and 1994 when they were at their strongest. Germany plays like a fine uh… German Automobile. With precision.
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I do agree with better officiating but….
I don’t think we need to have higher scoring games, that’s just ridiculous and takes away that intense feeling that these players can score at any minute. I think what Americans fail to appreciate is the fact that they can score at any minute, instead of having the mindset of “when are they going to score”. A lot of my friends were very bored by the final, but honestly I thought it was good solid game, it was physical, it had the right momentum, and it all culminated in an amazing shot. If you can watch baseball, why can’t you watch soccer? that’s one of the most baffling points that I also fail to understand. I do think that people are becoming more and more interested partly due to the FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer Games, It tends to teach people the basic rules, strategies, statistics, things Americans love, but often misunderstand.

by TerpsAllTheWay on Jul 12, 2010 12:31 PM EDT actions
I think everyone who was watching learned just how amazing a 1 goal game can be when landon put the winner in against Algeria. I’ve said it many times, so i guess i’ll say it again, the reason soccer isn’t wildly popular in America isn’t because Americans don’t like soccer, it’s because theres such obscene amounts of money to be made with football. Why? because theres a thousand opportunities for commercial breaks during a football game. Soccer has precisely 1 break for commercials. ESPN and the like will pay attention to soccer during the summer when sports are slow, and they’ll pimp the EPL because it’s on early in the morning, and they have nothing else going on at that time so it’s better than nothing. But when college football or the NFL is available? You’ll never see the big sports networks get behind soccer, theres just not as much money to be made.

by GKINMD on Jul 12, 2010 2:19 PM EDT actions

Premise of the whole article is wrong
MLS is having great attendence – up 10% in a down economy that has MLB down 2%. TV ratings for MLS are even with NHL when put on comparitively accessible tv stations as well.

Records were set for American viewership of WC’10 South Africa. With all its time zone differences and what-not it was the most watched World Cup in US history.

So if this is going to be the best year for the domestic league, and the best WC why are we claiming that Americans don’t care?

I am not a Supporter | I am not a Fan | I am a Sounder
Sounder At Heart
by Dave Clark on Jul 12, 2010 3:20 PM EDT actions

I think one way to can increase scoring in soccer is to eliminate the offside rule. I don’t know how controversial this would be, but it seems like it would do the trick.

As to officiating, I think having one ref for each half of the field (they’d both be on during play) would eliminate some of the bad calls that seem to happen simply because the ref was far away and couldn’t do anything about it.

Hockey Blogger at Pensburgh.com
by GoPens! on Jul 12, 2010 6:25 PM EDT actions

Eliminating offsides
would change the game in a horrible horrible way, the game would suffer sooooo much

by I need more Esteban on Jul 13, 2010 10:19 AM EDT up actions

Yes, slow ass piss poor defenders would no longer be bailed out
by Cool Dudes on Jul 14, 2010 1:32 AM EDT up actions

Seriously?
slow ass piss poor defenders? How about the offsides trap? How about cherry picking? Offsides is intricate to fielding a good game. What fun would it be if someone just stayed at one end of the pitch and continuously fielded balls after a long kick? That would make the game terrible.

“I will never have my best season,” Brian Dawkins
“There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee
“This fucking game is over!” Chuck Bednarik
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” Mike Tyson
by Talon Talent on Jul 15, 2010 12:41 AM EDT up actions

Yeah, the “offsides trap”
A defense that rely’s on the proficiency of the linesman to actually be competent AND see perfectly to ensure that a goal is not scored.

Fucking brilliant! You should coach France! You would be great!

by Cool Dudes on Jul 16, 2010 12:37 AM EDT up actions

wow didn’t realize you could simplify it so easily.
The offside trap is not without risk as a perfectly timed ball will leave a defense watching the cleats of a forward as he streaks for a one on one opportunity. It may not be a “brilliant” defense, and yet how often has it saved a team? Anything that works as well as it does might very well be considered brilliant.
And it also amazes me that with everything I wrote there, the only thing you could dispute was the offsides trap part of it.
Simply put, soccer without offsides would be terrible. If you are looking for high scoring games watch basketball I hear they score like 80 points on average or something.

“I will never have my best season,” Brian Dawkins
“There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee
“This fucking game is over!” Chuck Bednarik
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” Mike Tyson
by Talon Talent on Jul 16, 2010 10:59 AM EDT up actions

Dude
There’s not enough time in the day to dispute everything you are saying that’s wrong. I just concentrated on the funniest part.

by Cool Dudes on Jul 16, 2010 2:46 PM EDT up actions

Nice. I take that as victory. Thanks for playing

“I will never have my best season,” Brian Dawkins
“There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee
“This fucking game is over!” Chuck Bednarik
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” Mike Tyson
by Talon Talent on Jul 16, 2010 10:04 PM EDT up actions

I disagree and disagree. Goals should be a treasured event. The scoring of a goal in soccer is one of the best moments frowarded to the players and the fans watching. It is because they are harder to come by. I mean if the goals were coming by the handful who the hell would want to be a goalie for the sport? All the attention would be put on forwards (as it often is now) and at the core of humanity is the need for recognition and love. This is why offensive players are usually more coveted in every sport. if anything soccer gives the defenders a more equal chance to shine.
Instant replay for soccer is always and always will be a bad idea. To put it brief (because I already explained it in Disappointedleafs fan World Cup Controversy fanpost) The fluidity of soccer can not be messed with. The momentum part of soccer is so crucial and Instant replay would take that away completely.

“I will never have my best season,” Brian Dawkins
“There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee
“This fucking game is over!” Chuck Bednarik
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” Mike Tyson
by Talon Talent on Jul 12, 2010 10:04 PM EDT actions

disagree
only in part.

I definitely agree that the fluidity should not be messed with too much but there HAS to be goal-line replay and replays on offsides when they involve goals.

You will have an official in the booth who watches a replay and relays the outcome to the head official in a matter of seconds. This would not mess with flow by any means, in fact, it might speed things up because you wouldn’t have to wait as 6 players argue with the official. This is 2010, you can make these things happen fast.

by I need more Esteban on Jul 13, 2010 10:23 AM EDT up actions

Somehow the NHL seems to be able to recruit goalies and keep their players from taking a smoke break during goal reviews
Not sure how they do it. Maybe we need some sort of secret Canadien technology.

by Cool Dudes on Jul 16, 2010 12:48 AM EDT up actions

The Final Was the Most watched soccer match in U.S. History with a record 24.3 Million Tuning in.
by TerpsAllTheWay on Jul 12, 2010 10:59 PM EDT actions

Agree or Disagree
This was a well-written post.

I don’t think I can jump on board with the widening of the goal. Like many have said, the rarity of goals are what make them so special when they do happen. What more Americans that don’t like Soccer need to realize is that the excitement of the game comes on opportunities to score. With every cross into the box of the opposition, you hold your breath that this could be the one that loses you the game, maybe even in the first 10 minutes! That’s why every minute matters and every opportunity is so special. When Americans that don’t enjoy the game realize that they may jump on board.

But hey, not everyone likes every sport and that is fine. I just wish our society could get past hating so hard on soccer. There is not a sport in America that more shit is talked on than soccer. Although, I do know a lot of people that hate pretty hard on baseball these days. I live in Kansas, though, so I run across my fair share of bumkins who throw out, “err soccer is so f’n borin’, let’s go watch us some g’damn Nascar!
End rant on that.

Agree with you about technology. Get with the times FIFA. I said it above, but goal-line technology and technology on offsides involving goals should be implemented in some ways. I mean the goal that England didn’t receive and the goal that Tevez scored on the non-offsides call were inexcusable. Do it incrementally, experimentally, just do something.

by I need more Esteban on Jul 13, 2010 10:31 AM EDT actions

If Soccer Had Just Been, or Was Just Being Invented
You would be totally correct. They made the goals too small, the advantage the goalie has using his hands over players using their feet is too much. But the goal is the size of the goal and I really doubt that will ever change (except perhaps as a good way to break a tie in extra time).

But, I really think there are some less drastic rule changes that could be made. A ridiculous number of goals get called off because of the offsides rule, and a lot are really borderline calls. I would really like to see offsides become more of a zone rule not unlike what they have in hockey. The intent of the rule is to prevent poaching and continous longballs, but it wasn’t well thought because a lot of calls are made after the ball is already in the box, which really makes no sense. I would really like to see this rule changed.

While the size of the goals may be sacred, I really don’t think the offsides rule is very universally loved and people would be far more willing to change it.

by Cool Dudes on Jul 14, 2010 1:39 AM EDT actions

No…
I think that the majority of Americans would watch it. But they refuse to watch it out of fear that they might like it. And that is enough for them not to give it a chance.

The Once and Future King
by FlaGators on Jul 21, 2010 3:53 PM EDT actions
Comments for this post are closed, bro.

Yearbooks remember


A thin young boy with blond bushy hair ambled up to the horse trough. The humidity was high and perspiration dripped down the hollow of his brown chest as he dipped down to sip the ice cold spring water that was meant for the horses…

Most of the Iroquois High School Cross-Country team who ran through the park that hot August day in 1972 would eventually stop at the trough to drink the cool water. As the skinny boy drank he was unaware that someone else was watching, someone who had nothing to do with Cross-Country. It was the Yearbook photographer. On that late steamy Summer afternoon a photograph of me was taken, which later appeared in my IHS Yearbook.

I had forgotten that moment because it was just like all the rest of the blistering hot days when we had stopped to drink the icy water from the trough as we ran the five mile loop through Iroquois Park. But my Yearbook remembered…. And, I saw that photograph again at our IHS Twenty-Five Year High School Reunion Picnic, when several paunchy, ex-Cross-Country team members sat with me in that same park where we had drunk the horse water a quarter of a century before, and laughed at the yellowed pages of our Yearbook. As we crossed the page with the skinny teenager I smiled, and I remembered too.

I remembered not just the taste of the clear fresh water, but the rusty edges of the trough, where you could cut your lip if you weren’t careful. I remembered that the cold water always drained down the left side, then splashed high against a weathering piece of timber. I remembered that you must drink from the right side, or you’d get your running shoes soaked, making for a squishy-muddy run down the last dusty mile of the bridle path. And … I remembered side stepping and jumping along the narrow, windy path which was our running track, narrowly missing fresh piles of fragrant horse manure.

You see, Yearbooks remember only brief glimpses, tiny fragments, and foggy images. Our mind supplies the rest. Yearbooks help provide the feel and the smell of our past, not simply the words and pictures. Yearbooks remember…. Our world changes much too fast for us to store all of the details in some handy little mental closet.

Our days flicker by like a (YouTube) video stuck on fast forward. We know there’s a story in there, but we have to slow down the images if we are to understand the plot. We need Yearbooks more as our years pass by; to help remember us as we were and will never again be. Your Yearbook stores thousands of kick-starts for hundreds of people for dozen of years.

When you multiply it out, it’s a pretty cheap subscription. Don’t be afraid of remembering the past, it’s already happened. Understand that tomorrow never comes…

So live today, and make some memories… and don’t forget

Yearbooks remember.         –thom adams, 1998

I love me some Demarcus Cousins!


I recently wrote a piece when DC was drafted, about how “lucky” The Kings were to land such a gifted, yet unrealized potential in one Demarcus Cousins. I posited that they were treating him like an indentured slave on their team, in their press, in their whiny-ass homes. I mean, I can read.

My post was met with derision, ridicule, hatred, and venom since I was apparently not one of the in-the-knows about all things Sactown. Even later, as the dice had spun and landed squarely on the Yo, few (none) of Sactown’s readers were apt to acknowledge that it was not me; it was they who had been wrong about the Big ole Boogie Man.

The Titanic took on water, but the man played on… Demarcus Cousins: Raw yes, unrefined for sure… but with a body and a basketball awareness that eventually only Dwight Howard will match. Yet, DC is arguably better than Dwight because he can run and pass, dribble and shoot, and forget it…rebound like a man possessed. Oh, and Dwight, yes he can and will DUNK at the slightest notion. Face.

He has used his supposed immaturity in such a mature manner. He proved to his detractors that it is they who are wrong and will continue to be wrong about his CHARACTER. The young man is NO THUG. He is as home-spun as the Alabama roots from which he came.

He is an All-Star anywhere but in the politicized public relations arena known as the NBA chatter-box. He doesn’t fit their Shane Battier mold. I’ve met Shane, and yeah he’s nice kid too. But, I like me some Demarcus Cousins. Think it… say it. Don’t pause, post. Sacramento? A smog-fest side show wih a Napolean complex.

Yet, they make the same money for playing the game of NBA basketball. Battier, a nice compliment to most any team is from Duke, that almighty drunk-fest in North Carolina. But Demarcus Cousins he is not! Some whiny poster lambasted me for posting “Demarcus…GTF out of Sactown” He reasoned DC is on a Rookie salary cap.

WTF? Are you serious little boy? You think I don’t understand that, you obvious retard? Sacramento is over the salary cap, BTW. The rules change bimbo! DC needs to ask, NO… DEMAND a trade to a town that not only understands the game, but understands what card they are holding with the ACE OF SPADES in Demarcus Cousins. Where the N word has been abolished.

After three well thought out, intelligently written posts on Sacramento’s little puny web-blog site, and being villified in much the same manner as they treat their real star player, I fired back with some witty observations about their fanbase that was less than kind. I was banned from the site. OH MY! Their Editor, showing his lack of understanding in all things Journalism, refused to explain the ban to me (as if I gave a rat fu*k). He just said we don’t need any assholes in our little “community”.

My response?

“Well….I didn’t call anybody an asshole, YOU ASSHOLE!”

Demarcus is his own man, and being that is not bound by the straightjacket imposed by the marketing genius/idiots currently employed by the league. I wonder, are there any free-thinkers left in Sacramento?
DC makes 9 times less than Kobe Bryant, 6 times less than Zack Randolph, 3 times less than Emika Okafor, just to name a scant few. My GOD, he makes almost 7 times less than a player in Orlando that does not start! So, if that’s gonna be the case, why not play where bigotry is not the order of the day?

If the Kings are smart, and only god knows why that should that change anytime soon… they will begin to show some love for the man who can bring them home a ring in the not-so-distant future, and show him the appreciation he only wants and loves, and needs from the rest of humanity’s ill-advised, headline only reading public.

Cousins isn’t the problem, he’s the solution. Give him some LOVE soon or Sactown basketball will be like Sacramento after the California Gold Rush. Empty and without future prospects.

-30-

A Snowbird in the Catbird Seat


SNOWBIRD

A steady frigid wind and a blistering chill from the East had settled into a steady rhythm one late February day in 1971. Gust… then relief… more gust… less relief. The sky was painted pewter gray… a dreary, solid, unwavering, uncaring gray.

I stepped carefully onto the cracked Southern Louisville sidewalk, trying to miss the patches of ice that had formed to even out the middle, where the concrete slabs met and slanted in either direction. I pulled my tobagon down over my ears and flipped it up so my eyes were barely visible. I tugged my gloves tight as I lit out down the cruddy block of residential and commercial properties lining the four lane Street called Taylor Boulevard in Louisville’s South End.

Optimistically, Tolly said smiling, “let’s roll”.

Six teenage disheveled runners took off; shivering, sighing, and determined to finish their six mile run before dark. Southern Louisville is not a pretty place now, nor was it then, in the early 70‘s. Mostly blue collar houses built after World War II lined grimy streets, sometimes built seemingly only inches apart. The people living there had a hard life and it showed… on their faces, in their homes and cars, in their yards.It’s no place to be after dark.

Tolly was our coach, or our Graduate Assistant Coach during the Winter off-season when real Coaches went home before the 4:30 Midwestern darkness, to settle in warm and cozy with their families. An ex-runner himself, Tolly was Interning from the University of Louisville.

We were Iroquois High School distance runners, seeking future fame, fortune, or perhaps a just a letter jacket, by running on late afternoon school days during off-season; which we hoped would help make us much better runners by the time Spring Track season rolled around in Mid-March. Or, that was our hope at least.

In 1971, distance running was not a household word with the MOJO it now assumes. The name “NIKE” didn’t exist. Nor did their shoes. We wore white Addidas (with blue and red stripes), the only running shoe maker we’d ever heard of.

Runners, by-and-large were considered crazy, or just plain fools. Cans of beer or Pop were hurled at us as a matter of course, and we laughed and catalogued their near-misses. It broke the boredom when a car load of flannel shirted South End redenecks spit nasty epitaths and cursed us as we sped by in the opposite direction.

After having finished 30th in the Regional Finals as a Sophomore at the end of the last Cross-Country season, my future running prospects weren’t exactly on-fire. I didn’t return home to find letters from colleges stuffed in my mailbox, inquiring about my desire to take a look at their campus, or even their class schedule for that matter.

SolutionsSign

But, I needed a scholarship to be able to afford College, having come from a blue collar family of five where no one had ever attended school beyond High School. Though my parents insisted they would try to help out, I knew my slim chances were better by slipping and sliding down those icy streets. And, slim they were.

I took the tongue depresser (a stick which told me what place I had finished) from that Regional Meet. Faded blue numbers from sweat that read “30th”. I sat it on my bedstand so evry day I could see my goal of running better next year. Thirthieth in the Region is far from accomplished in High School Cross-Country. Actually, it’s not even on the map.

That Sophomore season I had been the only Varsity runner to wear the “snowbirds” as my teamates laughingly referred to my meet warmups. On our team of seven Varsity runners, six had nylon and mesh, zippered and fitted dark blue warmups with an incredible “Iroquois” splashed across their back in the most beautiful embroidered Script… with double shadows. Outrageous as they were, I wore the “snowbirds”.

kalopsia

Snowbirds were all-white cotton sweatpants and a sweatshirt with a small blue “Iroquois High School” in all-caps facetiously screen-printed and stuck in the upper-right corner of the front pocket area. Why? Had each letter cost us a fortune? Charged by font sizes too? Why else the disparity, which made me look and feel embarrassingly ridiculous? Snowbirds made me both ashamed and angry. Snowbirds were what got me out of my warm home onto those dirty, gray, icy roads on many cold Southern Louisville Winter days.

Even competitors from other schools noticed me while we warmed up doing wind sprints before some events; while I pretended not to notice their chuckles and the “Hey, come look at this” smirks; their common theme my pure white snowbirds, as I learned to read my opponents lips from 100 yards. Soon they would realize I was actually on the Varsity team, and not the team manager wearing goofy sweats.sciamachy

Once, I recognized a guy from another school that I’d met at a local Turkey Trot back on Thanksgiving in November. “Hey Rick” I waved to the handsome leader of their pack, each one all decked out in meshy red, white, black warmups. Our two schools were racing one another that day, and he was something of a prima-dona. It felt good to let my teammates see that I actually knew Rick Akam. When he saw my sweats, and then my teammates cool-bean outfits, he just nodded, unknowingly… and then trotted away.

My easy-going Coach laughed with everybody else on the team each time he handed out my clean sno-white warmups before each meet.

“Next year Adams”, he would lament with a grin, knowing how stupid I was about to look, running along with his SuperHeroes in a set of white cotton almost blank sweats. Embarassed, I’d grab them in good cheer and slide them on.

——————————-

Actually the Coach, Mr. Lerding, had seen something special in me the first day I tried out for the team back in late August. A friend in my accounting class had suggested I go out for the cross-country team because, “it’s an easy letter” as he put it. I could imagine pretty girls eyeing my dark blue school letter jacket with the “I” embroidered smartly on the front, wondering just who this new kid was?

I had transferred from Catholic School that year because my parents could no longer afford the tuition. I knew most of the kids anyway, since I grew up only a few blocks from Iroquois (the public high school), but the classes were very different. Since I had gone to Catholic School since First grade, I already knew most of what was being taught to the Juniors and Seniors at Iroquois, and had enough credits to take easy elective classes and such. Running might take away some of the boredom I figured, so I talked a couple of other friends into trying out with me that day.

That first day in late August we gathered around the horse trough at the entrance into Iroquois Park, an 800 acre park/hill carved into the city, with only one road which circled the bottom, and one road that went to the top. There were lookouts along the way and at the top one could see all the way to Indiana. Playgrounds and picnic tables, tennis courts and and an Ampitheatre dotted the beautiful park. There was also a bike path made of asphault which looped two miles along the front of the lush green forested park.

We ran the bridle path, a four and a half mile dirt loop around the bottom of the park. It was dirt/mud/horseshit, about ten feet wide with puddles of mud here and there as large as my bedroom. It had banked tight curves, up-and-down bumps or small hills, long narrow up hills drifts through the forest, but very little flat land the entire run. It was mostly through the thick forest, though in places it came out into sunny areas where there were activities like softball, picnic areas, frisbee golf and such. The sun lasted only minutes… then diving back into a wood where sunlight only flickered through the tops of trees.

On the North side there was a public golf course flanking the entire park and horse path. There the hills became steeper, longer, twisting, then finally diving straight down to the bottom, onlt to begin the next incline even steeper and more harrowing. It was like a roller-coaster of sorts without the tracks and trains. The uphill parts punished even the strongest runners. I started to become delirious that first day, but I kept running.

Since it was my first day I had no idea how fast to run, or even if I could run that far. Mainly, I tried to stay connected to others who were suffering as much as me. I trudged through the mud jumping back and forth across the puddles left over from a recent rain. I couldn’t think of anything but finishing the run, even after seeing quitters and walkers, I kept on going.

The golf course part was brutal mentally and physically, and there I had no one to rely on for encouragement or friendly assistance. Peeking over each new hilltop brought a brand new, discouraging challenge ahead. I just kept going.

Eventually, I came to a small clearing and saw the bottom of the hill where the Coach chatted with three or four other runners as they were stretching, talking and laughing.

Soon enough I was among them, though I didn’t say much. I just laid prone looking up at the leaves in the tops of treees, sun blinking in and out with my conscience Ness.

Other runners struggled to finish as we waited at least another forty minutes for them until it seemed everyone was back. Surprisingly, on my first day I was the first newcomer to finish, and even had beaten some of the Varsity runners. As I walked away to head back to the school across the street, the Coach stopped me. “What did you say your name was?” he queried.

I was jubililant and from then on forever hooked on distance running. What a small piece of “fame” can do for a naive young boy. I replayed his question that night over and over while I lay in bed nursing my aching, sore legs.

____________

As we crossed street after street of light afternoon traffic, a light snow began to fall on our icy breaths that February day, and I felt a power inside me start to grow. I felt that I was “becoming” a long distance runner.

It seemed that the worse the weather, the more I enjoyed it. I loved running in driving rains, foggy mornings where you couldn’t see your friend next to you, and audaciously blistering cold afternoons, which made me laugh at the irony.

By now, I was also part of the Varsity team, though still a skinny Iroquois sophomore with more hope than ability. But each day I suited up for Tolly’s 6,7,8, or 10 mile runs through Louisville, more determined to shed my “snowbird” image. Running, cold and humbling as it can be, was becoming familiar and fun.

________

When Spring Track season began with a few “dual” meets I ran the “two-mile” against our competitors, each time breezing through the two miles in around eleven minutes and thirty seconds. That was exactly my time in the Regional the day I finished 30th. More importantly, I won the races handily, since the other runners had not endured the “Winter of Tolly” like me and some of my teammates. I knew if challenged I might be able to run even faster, but I loved winning races.

I’ll never forget the night I became “someone” on the High School running scene in Kentucky. I was still a Sophomore in late March 1971 and without any real accomplishments, when my track coach (Ed Lerding) told me that I was going to run the two-mile run that night at an “Invitational” track meet.

Eight guys, eight schools, full grandstands, and all under the lights. It sounded scary and exciting. Was I ready? I hadn’t a clue.

The two mile run is near the end of each track meet, one of its last events. That gives one plenty of time to think (or too much time), warmup, and get mentally prepared for the race ahead. Early in the meet my Coach came up to me and asked how I felt.

“Good”, I answered.

fireworks baby!

“Well I have a little job for you tonight”, as he smiled and looked me straight in the eye.

“You know your buddy? Pendelton?” he asked. Terrell Pendelton was one of the top runners in the State of Kentucky, having already posted 9:49 two-mile time that Spring. We happened to have gone to grade school together, but I really didn’t know him at all.

“Yeah”.

“Well, I want you to get on his shoulder on the first lap and stay with him as long as you can”, he said matter of factly.

“Terry Pendelton? Stay with Terry Pendelton?” What?

“Yes, just for as long as you can. Don’t worry about dropping out, just hang on to him for as long as you can,” Lerding said in an optimistic tone. “I think you can stay near him the whole race.”

“Coach, I can’t run with Terrell Pendelton. He’ll run me in the ground.”

“It’s OK. Just stay as long as you can, and stay on his shoulder. You’ll be OK.”

‘He’s nuts I thought, but he’s the coach’.

It is the last thing I remember thinking before the gun sounded to start the race. As everyone jockeyed for position I spotted Pendelton already taking the lead on the first of eight laps. I sprinted to the front and landed a half-step behind him. He looked over his right shoulder but didn’t recognize me or seem to care that I stuck to him lap after lap.

I was shocked when I heard the gun sound again (meaning it’s now the last lap), and Terry Pendelton was just a shoulder ahead of me. The crowd was screaming and all I could think of was how fast I must have been running for the past seven laps, and how I was on TERRY PENDELTON’S shoulder still.

I kept wondering when he was going to take off and leave me behind. He didn’t. I didn’t want to beat him, just stay on his shoulder until the race was over. And that’s what I did, even though another guy (Don Cook) passed us both at the end.

I had finished the two mile in 9:54… the third fastest time in Kentucky that season. More than happy, I was amazed at myself. From 30th in the Region just four months ago, to now one of the fastest two-milers in the State of Kentucky.

_______

My life hasn’t been the same since that day, that incredible peak moment. Nothing has ever been too hard, or too tough that I didn’t think I could do it.

I went on to finish 3rd in the 2-mile at the Kentucky AAA State track meet as a Sophomore that Spring (behind Cook and Pendelton), but then surprised everyone by beating Pendelton to win the Kentucky AAA State Cross-Country meet that next Fall during my Junior year.

Imagine that, the snowbird less than a year ago… now the 1971 Kentucky AAA State Cross-Country Champion, wearing mesh warm ups too!

Pretty soon my mailbox was full of mail from colleges, and I eventually had a number of full scholarship offers from some great Universities. I graduated college with a BA in 1977, though instead of running I ended up playing three years of Varsity Soccer on Kentucky’s best Soccer team at MSU (Morehead State University). But, I ran until I was 50 years old… who was once again a “snowbird” who had retired and moved to sunny Florida.zemblanity

And although I continued running somewhat competitively through a hectic career of Publishing Sales, and played organized soccer for 11 years after college just to make sure that my youth remained intact for as long as possible, at 5o I became a first time father… altering my perception and priorities in life. A single father (who knew nothing about babies) cuddled his sick almost one year old son until… he caught pneumonia. On my third visit to the emergency room on Christmas Day 2005, my lungs filled with fluid causing my heart to double in size and nearly burst. A long recovery resulted (no running, no walking, no stress whatsoever on my heart was the Doctors instructions). “If you do” he said, “you’ll probably die.DSC00428

In 2007, ironically on Christmas Day, again I was rushed to the hospital within a few breaths of death. days later i awoke and the prognosis; not good. Five years… at best was the word. Here I stand in 2014 feeling better every month, no longer with the reaper no longer standing in my doorway. After all, I’m a father of two great little cross-country runners, aged 7 and 9. I have a job to do with my perfect little Snowbirds. Quitting is not a word I ever understood. Dying is out of the question, for now.

—30—

Why Kentucky is better than UNC again in 2011-12


While it’s typically bad form to pronounce one’s favorite team as being better than a team in which the consensus crowd has already crowned “the odds-on favorite to win it all” (a team that one irrationally exhuberent blogspert suggested could be UNC’S “best” ever), I also understand that so-called experts, most conventional wisdom, and especially the gasified pundits of each are almost always wrong.

That fact is based on a number of recent studies and books detailing such startling results.

And so, I have always thought to call it like I see it after taking in all the information available to me, despite a chorus of boos, nay-sayers, bombastic homer-screamers, and even the kind gentle  under-the-table nudge from friends, that say, “I understand how you might see it that way, but it’s better to take a wait and see.”

So, all homer-ism aside, and with honest almost-certainty, I believe Kentucky will be better than North Carolina again this year, and most particular by season’s end (in College Basketball of course).

TAKE SPECIAL NOTE that I am not so arrogant to say “Kentucky will beat UNC this year”. God only knows, but we all agree that the best TEAM does not always win it all (as my mind drifts to counting out Benjamins after the 1995 NCAA Cats vs.UNC loss).When these titans lock horns, both team’s fans KNOW that they are CAPABLE of winning, or losing it all (as my mind drifts to a bar in Hilton-Head, SC in 1984 counting out Benjamins after an unusual “lid over our basket” in the NCAA UK-Georgetown tilt).

But, here I am talking about which team is/will be better this year.

Just for fun, pretend you’re the Captain in a pickup game vs. Roy Williams, with all of the 2011-12 Carolina and Kentucky rosters standing, waiting to be chosen for some 5-on-5.

Roy picks first: Harrison Barnes, and you counter with Anthony Davis. Roy grabs Tyler Zeller so you give a nod to Terence Jones. OK, Ole’ Roy quickly says he’ll take John Henson…

Hmmm… but with some hesitation you decide on Michael-Gilcrest next, leaving Darius Miller and Doron Lamb on the table with Teague and Wiltjer, along with Marshal and, uh…Strickland, Mcadoo, Bullock and P.J.Hairston.

Who does Roy take next? In my mind he has to take either Miller or Lamb, as they appear to be the two best players left on the table. He tabs Lamb and you gladly grab Darius, leaving Marshal for Roy and you “stuck” with Marquis Teague. Stuck with Marquis Teague? Wow, what a game huh?

Well, the point is that when it comes down to it, Kentucky is holding the edge in talent, at least through the first five or six players, wouldn’t you agree?

CAVEAT: Blindly patriotic as many fans are, these choices would likely go differently with everyone in Chapel Hill. It’s ALSO at the crux of my argument.

In part ONE,

I mistakenly used statistics to prove that Kentucky was the better team last year as well. I mistakenly assumed “possession basketball” was WELL understood as simply: as long as you have the ball the other team cannot score, and you can. If you turn it over, you no longer have it. If you fail to get a rebound, you no longer have it. It’s ALL about offensive efficiency..

But then, AS we all know… liars figure, and figures lie.

What surprised me most was that even many Kentucky fans were unwilling to buy MY facts, laid out clearly before them, which argued/showed/proved with calm rationale that The Cats were better than the Heels during the last season, AND especially when it counted most: On the court in their final head-to-head game.

My reason was questioned, my arguments mangled, my integrity laid open to serious doubt.Astoundingly, I was also vehemently accused of over-gratuitous self-promotion by one writer whom I know to be an excellent writer himself, and whose mantle is surely safe and secure without an embarrassing lam-basting and undressing of my honest post.

Lemme’ jus’ say that I don’t write about Kentucky basketball to win any awards, or get free tickets, to keep an erection, or even for money or it’s ensuing imaginary PRESTIGE.

For me, the occasional atta-boy when warranted will suffice, yet my “feel good” piece garnered  a barrage of simple-minded questioning and unreasonable ridicule… the likes I haven’t heard since third grade. Ouch! And from BIG BLUE fans to boot! Oh my?

I simply love the Cats and I like to write. I don’t apologize, because I’m not too dumb for either of them. But, I love honest criticism, so it was right that I should not have touted my previous posts. But it wasn’t shameful. It was merely an effort to get some real feedback.

Okay… happily my ego is still WAY more than intact.

This is Part 2, who many readers begged for with seemingly veiled delight.

Perhaps here’s where you can gut me for my outlandish ideas. Why? For a large part my PART TWO reasons are not entirely based on undeniable empirical evidence, but something more insipid. Growing up as I did a gambler, I think I have acquired some knowledge/wisdom through observation-experience-feeling and gut.

Much of it was wrong.

But the numbers, the statistics, also point to Kentucky’s dominance again, in so far as they can be measured this early in the season. And always needless to say, the game is not played on paper.

Some reasons, while rooted in fact are harder to pin-down. I mean, why is it that sometimes late in the game we are happy/unhappy when a certain player is fouled? Especially when evidence would suggest that another would not be a better choice? Gut.

3 PT. SHOOTING-CAROLINA (and) 3 PT. DEFENSE

Where has anyone read or heard that UNC has finally figured out how to shoot the three? Couple that with an opponent that will guard the three better than you have yet seen at Kentucky, there will likely be some clanking on Franklin this year. Roy does not have a reliable 3 pt shooter in his arsenal, unless one of their vaunted Freshman steps up and takes over quickly. OH yeah, Roy Williams loathes to play Freshmen… The Heels do not shoot free throws very well either, as great FT shooting teams go. They better get lots of layups. Uncontested.

3PT. SHOOTING – KENTUCKY (and) 3 PT. DEFENSE

Simply put, our TWO best 3 pt. bombers are back in Lexington. Miller and Lamb (Move over Travis, Lamb may end up as best EVER at Kentucky) are on the all-time list. One year older, wiser, sharper, and more confident. Some other guys can step out and knock it down (Anthony Davis for one), and one did so last year for shits and giggles (Terrence Jones). They say the BIG FRESHMAN can really shoot the three, perhaps better than Lamb… and that it’s also hard to teach six foot ten… as in KYLE WILTJER. UNC has not shown it can stop a good 3 pt. shooting team.

Yet Kentucky is primarily a DEFENSIVE TEAM, mind you. One of the best last year, but quicker a foot this year. Calipari is known for his coaching tenacious defensive intensity. Free Throws are a question, though the guys we kept (Miller, Lamb) were two of our better free throw shooters last year and we shoot it way better than do the Heels. All said, we should shoot Free Throws tad higher percentage-wise this year. Big UK advantage.

DEPTH, TALENT

Carolina is talented big and deep. Kentucky is talented big and deep. How deep must a team go? Ten guys can play at any given moment. True, UNC could field three strong starting lineups. Who cares? It might come in handy sometimes, but not when these two juggernauts meet. Both teams have long talented pine and enough firepower to interchange their parts. Toss-up with UNC a slight edge if Armageddon breaks out.

INSIDE GAME

Last year Carolina held the advantage in the paint. This year, not so much, if any. Carolina loved to rebound and run. Kentucky will love to rebound and run too this year.We’re a tad quicker than Carolina’a front line as long as Zeller holds down the middle and Gilchrist is playing. No more advantage UNC. Advantage Even.

THE POINT?

As in guard. Carolina has had some minor turnover issues but Avery Marshal ought to change that with a year under his belt. He can run, handle the ball, make the correct pass, and… blow the shot. With Marquis Teague, Kentucky will see it’s bigs more involved than ever, as he doesn’t love to shoot unless he’s finishing. But, he CAN shoot.He sees the court well much like Marshal, makes the right pass and finishes well on the break (better than Marshal). His test will be in the half-court D-D… can he run the offense without making unforced errors, over committed dribble-drives, or drill the shot when the defense steps back and begs him to fire? Watch his brother Jeff play and you’ll see how Marquis might progress…. he steadily progressed as a shooter and now he can knock down the shot, play fierce D and will stand toe-to-toe with any NBA Point Guard. By seasons end as a better shooter who sees the court as well and makes great decisions, Marquis will follow Jeff to the league. Even.

SUPERSTARS

Harrison Barnes, no doubt SUPER, but can be erratic. Anthony Davis, for sure is not for sure but is definitely most likely. Mike-Gilchrist, is absolutely positively a player any coach would cherish. Doron Lamb will not be silenced. John Henson, a rebounding muppet show who has gained upper body strength and will be tough to control. Tyler Zeller, the Scarecrow or the Tin Man, but not the Wizard. Terrence Jones, early maturity, high yield, compound interest…bankable. UK holds a slight Super Star advantage.

THE INTANGIBLE FACTOR, THE COACHING EDGE

Coaches. They deny but they lie. Roy Williams was for a long time the guy who couldn’t win the BIG ONE, but he didn’t care. He handled it well, but you know it hurt him to know he had to leave Kansas to finally get it done. Carolina was the FIT for Roy and he knew it. In his element, he got it done, though he claimed it didn’t enter his mind. Now, it’s as if those years didn’t exist. They pencil him in, they ink him in, they expect him to win it all again and again. Is he hungry like he was in 2003? I don’t think so. Listen to him speak. He knows his place is secure, he’s a Hall-of-Famer. He wants to win for his team, not the Carolina faithful. He is sad, but not destroyed when he loses, and he always loses with class. But hungry, he is not.

John Calipari didn’t shine Adoph Rupp’s shoes for 20 years waiting for his day to happen. He’s been making it happen every day for years, and with much longer odds than Roy ever knew existed. He doesn’t care about Championships he says, only his players success. I believe him, but only to a degree. The degree that he wants to win one so bad he can taste it.

Vindication is one step away, though he expects no matter what he does, the questions will follow him and sour it’s sweet taste. Calipari had a great mentor, safe to say, in Rick Pitino. He followed his every move, he perfected his moves. Most mentors eventually become resented by those who imitate them, and this is no exception. He wants to step out of that man’s shadow once and for all, and he understands how close he is to that bright sunshine.

Calipari has softened through the years, and for the better I think, while Williams has hardened. He’s harder to reach and feels the power of being adored, and the bitter pain of fan betrayal. Being at the top of the heap can make a man feel an invincible power at times. He watches who gets too close and then slams it shut, where he once was an open book with an open door.

Calipari wants to feel that power too, but I think he’ll act the opposite… become kinder and gentler, and more approachable after he finally wins it all.

Who is hungrier, I ask? Who needs it, wants it the most? Who has to have it for his own vindication? Who wants more than anyone on the planet to look his nay-sayers in the eye… with just a wink and a smile? Every cut, every bruise, every unkind and untrue word, every slap will be his to own to relish and remember.

It’s telling how he has played the coaching game with such class, devotion, dedication, and will to succeed. Who else could have weathered John Calipari’s storms? Here’s a man to emulate. He’s made mistakes, and he’s paid heavily their unending price. But he stayed his course with dignity, waiting for the last laugh.

He has slayed the dragon, saved the Princess from ruin, and now he will not trade his white horse for anything that resembles a CHANCE TO FAIL. Rest assured Nation of Blue… your time and his have fatefully met at that crucial moment: when we both needed each other the most. No matter what (and like his mentor Pitino), he has saved Kentucky Basketball and will forever be deified in the hearts of those who understand the thing that is Kentucky Basketball.

Coaching edge to Calipari.

CHEMISTRY. BIOCHEMISTRY. SYNERGY of systems.

Though Carolina has had a year to jell as a team, the sting of their last loss has had time heal. Yes, they do play together well, and get along well. Roy Williams personally likes this team, always a plus. They are committed, not arrogant… just his style. But don’t forget, this UNC bunch is the same team that suffered Carolina’s worst EVER ACC road thumping last year at Georgia Tech, who at the time was a rambling wreck. Many of these guys played in the NIT one year before, leading to real questions of will and talent. Comparing this team to UNC 2009 is an insult to that great team. There is zero, once they suit up and step on the Dome’s golden floor.  Actually, I see Duke as ACC champs in March. Advantage to UK in Chemistry by season’s end with UNC advantage in November..

THE all- BLUE PLAN

Unlike any team before, t

his Kentucky TEAM was built with the word chemistry in mind considering the individual talents involved. These freshmen chose one another (along with Cal) based on each one’s unique ability to provide a major contribution to a Championship team without talent duplicity. This has been in the making for 2-3 years. Each player, selected by hand based on their ability to mesh and provide a single cog in this well-oiled, precision instrument.

Even Doron Lamb, as his special talents became more clear, helped recruit them to play around him. Darius Miller is the anchor., the heart, the foundation (think Chuck Hayes, Pat Patterson).. The recruiting choices, their high school all-star playing decisions, their signing and timing all speak to a grand plan. A plan in a Championship plan book. NOW is it.

Fittingly, in the end it may have been Pitino who demonstrated this lesson to John Calipari back in the 90‘s. Leave NO STONES un-turned. The rest? It will take care of itself.

THIS MAY BE THE ULTIMATE COLLEGE BASKETBALL TEAM.

Nostradamus Lives!


this was posted on SeaofBlue.com BEFORE the NCAA Elite Eight Cats/Carolina slugfest in March 2011 which saw Kentucky outman, outgun, outdefend, (like all get out) a formidable, but very beatable Tar Heel squad…

john-calipari-shocked2

though i usually can’t pick my nose in the ncaa, this time i predicted that only one-1 seed and no two seeds would see the final four this year. the Cats can make that happen today with a win. let’s take a look at some numbers and facts borrowed from kenpom.com:

generally carolina plays faster paced than kentucky, thus scoring more points per game. carolina wants to push the ball looking for open 2pt shots, and i doubt that calipari will mind.

carolina plays its offense primarily through their bigs. they are monster offensive rebounders, while kentucky is slightly better at defensive rebounding. keeping the heels off their offensive glass is crucial.

the teams are fairly equal at offensive shooting % inside the arc. but, carolina scores most of its points inside the arc, as they shoot a few threes, and those are not shot that well (33.2%). kentucky shoots the three very well (39.2%), and relatively more often, though they are not simply a three point shooting team that lives (and dies) by the three. kentucky shoots free throws better (71.7% vs 67%), but carolina does not foul nearly as much as kentucky and relatively little period.

kentucky takes care of the ball much better (makes fewer turnovers), ranked #9 div 1 vs #166 in offensive TO%.

kentucky defends the three about the same as carolina (opponents shoot 33.2% vs 32.5%) but defends inside the arc better (opp shoot 41.7 vs 44.4%). kentuckys opponents shoot fewer three than carolinas. kentucky typically blocks a slightly higher percentage of shots than carolina.

kentucky’s effective field goal % is higher than carolina (52.5 vs 49.2). this factor is calculated combining 2pt and 3pt shooting %. and its adjusted offensive efficiency (all factors combined – shooting %, TO%, OR%, FT%), is better (ranked #7 in division 1 vs #39), although carolina has a better adjusted defensive ratio (same factors only defensively – ranked #5 div 1 vs #20). yet, kentuckys effective defensive field goal % is bit higher than is carolinas (ie guarding 2pt and 3pt shots combined).

this adds up to a game being decided on how well kentucky can shoot the three against a carolina defense that does not guard the three well, and then defend their own basket in the paint against carolina’s bigger frontline, and how well carolina’s somewhat shaky guards take care of the basketball against a formidable defender in kentucky.

 

AS in, Season's ends in...
AS in, Season’s ends in…

also carolina’s free throw shooting may become a factor, since they are likely to be at the line more often.

Based on the games importance, it is likely to be a dogfight through the end with the numbers suggesting (to me) kentucky winning by 2-3 pts, say 76-74.

of course, we all know how the game is not played on paper, but in the hearts and minds of the players, and at the coaching box. for my money, i like kentucky here too, with the 4 seeding being a large factor in the chip they seem to be wearing on their shoulders. to me, the Heels seem satisfied to just have the monkey off their backs from last year’s debacle season, and seem a bit soft. Getting pounded by Duke and Georgia Tech this year shows they are vulnerable to a blowout.

Look for Liggins to possibly step out on Marshal early to test his fortitude, then settle in with defending Barnes.

If kentucky goes cold from the three point line, look for a long afternoon watching carolina rebound and head off to the races, ending in many contested layups, dunks, and foul trouble for the Cats. this will not end pretty for our boys, and we go home to watch on TV.

The play of Terrence Jones and Darius Miller seems important here in how well we can contain the big Carolina frontline. we already know Harrelson, Liggins, Lamb, and Knight will show up ready to play.

(sorry, i just hate to capitalize while huntin and peckin)