The Morning Wood: Recounting an Epic Day of Sport

Oh thank Christ, the summer doldrums are almost over. Football’s back, fútbol is back, and the Race War for the White Haus™ gets in full swing this week as thousands of self-hating welfare queens descend on Tampa, Florida for the intellectual equivalent of a Furry convention.

Will Hurricane Isaac swamp the proceedings, leaving the conventioneers of Real America with nothing to do except to cruise Grindr? HOPEFULLY. Will Doctor Ron Paul’s delegates get pretty pissed about being administratively removed from having any formal recognition at the convention? YOU BET.

Monday’s RNC proceedings have been canceled in light of the weather, so we’ll come at you with a preview of ALL THE HAWT GEE-OH-PEE ACTION Tuesday morning, for liber-tea and freedumb.

On to the Monday Morning links, you peasants! [Read more…]

Morning Wood: Let’s All Laugh at the Red Sox

Rooting for the Boston Red Sox is a harmless and quintessentially American youthful dalliance, like cocaine and conservatism. It’s all so exciting and new but the lustre eventually fades and all that remains is the inescapable truth: You have better things to do with your time than to engage in such frivolity.

For a brief period wherein Messrs. Theo Epstein and Terry “Tito” Francona ran the front office and dugout, respectively, the FACKIN’ SAWX did a passable imitation of a competent ball club, winning two championships and issuing regular beatdowns to the hated Noo Yawk Yankees. But all of that is over; Epstein slinked off to Chicago, Francona has presumably taken up a quiet life of hitting on younger women, and the Sox have re-occupied their rightful and historically accurate place below the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East standings.

At 57 wins and 60 losses in their 162-game regular season schedule, the baseball Wes Welkers are 12.5 games behind the loathed Yankees and 6.5 games out of contention for a Wild Card playoff berth. Should they finish the season with a losing record, it will be their first since 1997.

Yes, dear readers, it would appear that the wheels are falling off. Not for the first time this season, internal strife is leaking out to the Boston media that loves nothing more than to participate actively in Fenway meltdowns. Former Sawx General Manager Dan Duquette is drinking their milkshake from his perch in scenic Baltimore, Maryland as the GM of the rejuvenated Orioles, and Beantown’s greatest baseball servant Johnny Pesky departed this world on Monday, leaving behind a 60-year career as a player, manager, and broadcaster.

Many of the devotees of Pedroiah Nation are concerned that the Red Sox ownership has spread itself too thin after taking on the challenge of reviving the legendary Liverpool Football Club, an under-performing member of the English Premier League Brought to You by Barclays® PLC. This may or may not be true, but why don’t you try to explain the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy to Tommy from Quincy in between his sets of bench-pressing your underage cousin, and let me know how that works out for you.

To the links, young Padawans! [Read more…]

What is *Really* Causing the Financial Failure of the English Premier League?

There are many reasons to love Deadspin, the sports website owned by Gawker Media. The idea of grown men getting paid squillions of dollars to play children’s games is essentially silly, so Deadspin’s combination of snark, uncompromising exposés of bad behavior, and withering criticism of the lamestream sports media is so very necessary.

The editorial staff of Deadspin is progressive enough to be ahead of its readership when it comes to covering sports that are growing in popularity but may not yet be on everyone’s radar. Specifically, I’m referring to soccer, played at the highest levels in Europe. Although I rate Slate and Grantland’s Brian Phillips as the best American soccer writer, Barry Petchesky does admirable work almost every week, converting mainstream ‘Merican sports fans to the world’s game by highlighting the sport’s unique excitement and drama.

One of the reasons soccer appeals to nerdy Murrican sports aficionados is that the competitive and financial structure of the sport is rather different than anything we typically see stateside. Teams play in up to four tournaments simultaneously, the best teams play against the best teams from other countries, and the worst teams engage in a compelling dogfight to avoid being relegated to a lower division and an uncertain future. [Read more…]

Supporting Manchester United is Like Rooting for Microsoft

Sir Alex Ferguson: Troll Genius

When your correspondent was just a wee young thing, his first love (besides the girl down the street whose all-encompassing beauty is still growing by the day) was the baseball. I loved the geometric order of it, the subtle nuance of how each pitch plays out, the hats, the bats, the stockings, and the familiar feeling of a muggy summer night at Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium.

HOWEVAH, I was so small at the time that my attempts to become the next Cal Ripken, Jr. were thwarted by my inability to even swing a bat. I wasn’t much better in the field. After two seasons my combined batting average was .333 because I struck out twice, got one fluke double that should have been a home run but for my conservative baserunning , and walked every other time because my strike zone was approximately the size of a shoe box.

So, I was gently nudged towards the soccer, where diminutive size was only a problem at the goalkeeper position and was even an asset in others. To help learn the game, my dad bought me Bryan Robson’s Soccer Skills, a brilliant book about the sport’s fundamentals of training, its subtle physical technique, and some elementary game tactics.

Those of you who are somewhat familiar with TEH SOCCERZ know that Bryan Robson was a midfield dynamo for a 22-year career spanning three decades, and that he was at his imperious best with Manchester United (and England) in the mid 1980s.

There, I admit it. I learned how to play soccer from a Manchester United player.

Quelle Horreur!

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Best and Worst Uniform Changes of 2011

Holy Tim Tebow-loving Christ, this year just absolutely flew by. I honestly cannot recall a year going by faster than 2011, which is good because a lot of it sucked taint. And while that’s fine for some people (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I can’t wait to get 2012 (and the end of the world!) underway.

One thing we got this year was a metric fuck-ton of uniform changes, across all sports and across both the collegiate and professional levels. As usual, there were good and bad iterations. For some reason Under Armor decided to try and be like Nike and design multiple uniform combinations for a couple of college teams (more on that in a moment) and attempted to make the sports teams look like clown college graduates.

Not unlike the Catholic Church, some of these changes simply didn’t need to be made (Attn: Pope Benedict II: I go to church twice a year maximum, and only after being good ol’ Catholic-guilted into it by my family near Christmas and Easter. Some of the changes you made were insanely out of touch, and really, is it too much to ask that when I return to mass the prayers remain the same? I’m really not going to be interested if I can’t coast through the prayers like normal), some were unnecessary but in good taste, and some were just total abject failures from conception to production.
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An American View of the Suárez/Evra/FA Debacle

[Note from the Editors: The Bunk was fined £40,000 and suspended from blogging for eight weeks by the Football Association for writing this column. Read at your peril.]

Solidarité, bitches. Photo from Getty Images

Your correspondent would like you to try a thought experiment.

For a moment, let’s concede that Luis Suárez said some naughty words to Patrice Evra in front of the Kop on 15 October 2011. Whether he actually did or not, and whether anything was lost in translation of language and cultural context, is irrelevant.

Let’s also concede that the FA’s “zero tolerance approach” towards anything smelling of racism is a good idea. Whether it is a good idea in practice is highly questionable given the unintended consequences of such policies when they have been attempted in the past, such as in American state school systems. But we will set that aside for a moment.

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Manchester United’s No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day

David De Gea: ¡Ay dios mio señor Rooni! ¡No puedo creer que estemos eliminando de la Liga de Campeones!

Wayne Rooney: Wha?

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Liverpool FC Player Ratings, Fulham 1-0 Liverpool, 5 December 2011

Tell us how you really feel, Luis. Photograph: Javier Garcia/Javier Garcia / BPI

Liverpool were mugged yesterday on a bitterly cold night on the Thames by referee Kevin Friend, their own profligacy in front of goal, and an opportunistic strike by that part-time rapper from Nacogdoches, Texas, Clint Dempsey. Championship-winning teams have enough ability and self-belief to offset refereeing injustices and goalkeeping mistakes; Liverpool last had this quality about them in April of 2009 and we haven’t seen the faintest hint of it in nearly thirty months. To be fair, the referee had about six major decisions to make and each time (whether rightly or wrongly, mostly wrongly) he came down on the side of Fulham. Consistent refereeing would have seen Fulham down to ten men for Dempsey’s absurd headbutting, then down to nine for repeated cynical tackles by Phillipe Senderos. On the balance of play it can be argued that Fulham deserved a point for a well-organized display that required the full attention of the usually magnificent Pepe Reina, but the additional two they won were a gift from the man in black.

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Player Ratings for Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City, 27 November 2011

A pulsating encounter at Anfield this afternoon featuring two sides going for full points, Manchester City could have opened a seven point lead over their arch rivals Manchester United with a win and Liverpool hoped to capitalize on draws by several of the other title-chasers on Saturday and improve on their mediocre home form.

Brilliant goalkeeping on both sides prevented this match from finishing 6-6. Liverpool edged it on the statistics but Manchester City did more than enough to earn a point and remain unbeaten in Premier League competition this season.

Like all true Englishmen, let’s dispense with the notion of foreplay and just get on with it!

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Fear and Loathing in SW6: Chelsea F.C.’s Downward Spiral Begins

I used to get really worked up for the semi-annual encounters between the Liverpool and Chelsea football clubs. In the first decade of this millennium Chelsea represented everything that was vulgar and wrong about football. Here was a club that lived well beyond its means for years, was forced to sell the land under its stadium to ensure that property developers wouldn’t swoop down like vultures in the event the club was declared insolvent, and indeed was minutes from being put into administration before being purchased in 2003 by the corrupt, thieving Russian oil & gas billionaire Roman Abramovich.

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